Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Takin' it to the Mac

Seriously Insane Kickin' Crab and Corn Mac n' Cheese

I have written before about my obsession with Mac n' Cheese. As I've said, "What's not to like?" I've developed five other Mac n' Cheese variations (so far) for this blog and anticipate many, many more. After spending the weekend visiting an old college buddy in a ridiculously hot and muggy St. Louis, I figured summer was finally here and it was time to put the comfort food recipes away for the season (like so many cozy sweaters and cute pairs of boots). On my return to the rainy Northwest, however, I found that comfort food got a reprieve. So . . . you looked at my "French Onion" Man n' Cheese recipe and thought, "That's decadent!" Well . . . foodie friends, I challenge you to try this tasty little number on for size. I threw in the jalapeño peppers for a little spicy kick to play off the sweet nuttiness of the cheese and roasted garlic combo. It's one tasty dish . . . if I do say so myself.


- 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, plus one Tbsp.
- 1 large sweet yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
- 6 oz. chopped pancetta
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 8 oz. lump crab meat, picked over for bits of shell
- 3 ears sweet white corn, kernels scraped from cobs
- 1 red and 1 green jalape
ño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 8 oz. grated Manchego cheese
- 8 oz. grated Raclette cheese
- 4 oz. grated Fontina cheese
- 1 qt. whole milk
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1 tsp. white pepper
- 1 lb. dried elbow macaroni
- salt, to taste
- 5 oz. panko bread crumbs
- 1 generous handful chopped Italian parsley

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Cut the tops of the garlic cloves and place on a small square of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in foil to create a packet. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes until garlic is soft, brown, and sweet. Remove from oven and allow to cool in packet. When garlic is through roasting turn oven down to 375˚F.

While garlic roasts, butter a 9x13" baking dish with 1 Tbsp. of butter and prep other ingredients. Grate cheeses, chop onion, remove corn kernels from cob, peel and seed peppers, chop pancetta, etc. Place pancetta in large Dutch Oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until pancetta just starts to turn brown. Remove from Dutch oven with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Add 4 Tbsp. butter to Dutch oven and melt over medium, add chopped onion, season with salt, stir, and cook until onion starts to soften and turn translucent.

Add flour to Dutch oven and stir constantly for 1 minute to create a thick paste. Gradually whisk in milk by the cupful and incorporate with flour. Whisk in cheeses and melt over medium-low heat. Remove from heat, season cheese sauce with white pepper and salt to taste. Stir corn, jalapeños, crab meat, and pancetta into the sauce. Squeeze roasted garlic out of skins into sauce. Stir to combine.

Boil a large pot of water and cook macaroni to al dente according to package directions, about 8 minutes. Drain and stir cooked pasta into cheese sauce. Spread mac n' cheese mix into prepared baking pan, set aside.

In a medium skillet, melt 4 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add panko breadcrumbs, stir frequently over heat and allow to toast. When breadcrumbs are just turning golden brown, remove from heat and stir in chopped Italian parsley. Spread breadcrumbs evenly over mac n' cheese. Bake in oven about 45 minutes. Remove and set aside about 10 minutes before serving. Seriously. Good. Stuff. Go at this on a cold night. Or when you're really, really hungry.

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