Debbie went down to the states a couple months ago and came back raving about the food she and Mark ate at this restaurant called 13 Moons. Every dish they ordered was amazing, but one that stood out was a crab macaroni and cheese. So, since she hasn’t stopped talking about it since, we decided to make some.
I am not a huge crab fan. In fact, I can count on one hand all the times I have had crab and really liked it. Once when I ate it fresh out of the ocean. I actually pulled up the trap that afternoon and we ate it on the beach that evening. The next time was when I ate Dungeness Crab cakes at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver for my girlfriends work presentation she invited me to. Those were melt in your mouth delicious and they were the crab cakes that Debbie and I used as our inspiration for our own Ultimate Crab Cake creation, which is the third time I ate crab and couldn’t stop. And finally, its this Dungeness Crab Macaroni and Cheese that had me weak in the knees from my first bite all the way to the very last one.
We chose to use Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese, because its a mild and buttery cheese with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor that worked so well with the crab. It also melts really well and becomes all creamy and gooey when its combined with hot milk. I love when you dig into a macaroni and cheese and you get a nice bunch of melted cheese, pasta and crunchy topping all in one bite. So yum!
This crab macaroni and cheese may sound decadent and classy, and it is definitely both of those things. However, it is still super easy to make. It’s basically a 3 step dish: make the pasta, make the cheese sauce, bake in the oven. I love how versatile it is too. You can really use this cheese sauce recipe to make any kind of macaroni and cheese you feel like. There have been many mornings that Debbie and I have fed a bunch of pool partiers that have spent the night, with a macaroni and cheese pulled together from the leftovers of last night’s dinner or random ingredients from the fridge.
Yes, I said mac and cheese for breakfast… It’s the breakfast of champions!
To make this macaroni and cheese gluten free make sure to choose gluten free pasta noodles and when you make the sauce, use the cornstarch option in the recipe rather than flour. Also, we used milk in this recipe as that’s what Debbie had, but I would just as soon use almond, coconut or cashew milk. Have you tried cashew milk yet? Do it! It’s so good!
Just a quick note about baking the macaroni. We like to just broil the top rather than bake it till its bubbling, because if you aren’t careful, all the yummy gooey sauce will get soaked up by the pasta noodles and the dish could get dry. Broiling it just melts the cheese on top and gets the topping nice and crispy. However, if you are eating this the next day and the sauce needs a little help, just add a little milk (of any kind) to it and give it a stir. That will get the sauce all nice and creamy again.
We loved this dish so much that we decided to enter it into a contest that Jarlsberg is putting on. They are challenging people to submit recipes that showcase the flavor of Jarlsberg cheese. On may 18th, Jarlsberg will choose their finalists and people will have till the 25th of May to vote for their favorite recipe. If you feel so inclined, and you either try this dish and love it, or you just think it looks amazing, we would love it if you would throw in a vote for us!
Thanks in advance and I will post the link to vote here if we are selected as finalists so you can vote easy if you choose to. 🙂
- Fill a large pot with water and heat on high. Bring it to a boil and when its boiling, add the pasta and cook for 8 - 10 mins. Drain, add it back to the pot and set aside.
- Meanwhile heat a medium pot to medium heat. Add the oil and the onion and saute for a few mins. Add the minced garlic and cook for a min.
- Next make a roux, with the butter and flour. Wait until the butter is melted before adding the flour. Cook for a couple mins while stirring until the butter and flour form a thick paste. You need to cook the roux for a little bit to get rid of the floury taste. You don't want your cheese sauce to taste floury.
- Add the milk to the roux a little bit at a time stirring as you add it in. Keep stirring for a min or two until the mixture starts to thicken.
- At this point, turn on your ovens broiler to heat up.
- Remove the pot from the stove and add the cheese (save a little for the top) and stir till its all melted and combined. Add the dungeness crab and give it another stir.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir to combine it well. Pour the pasta into a large casserole dish or a number of individual ones.
- Make the topping by mixing the melted butter with the panko and salt (only use salt if you panko is not seasoned already)
- Top the pasta with a little cheese and the panko topping. Throw it in the oven and broil until the cheese on top is browned and bubbling. Serve while its nice and hot!