After being inspired by Ina Garten's Lobster Mac and Cheese on The Food Network's Barefoot Contessa, I played with a Mac and Cheese recipe of my own. I tried the recipe a few days ago and it turned out to be a HUGE crowd-pleaser (keep in mind that my "crowd" consisted of 4 people, including myself). This recipe made enough to serve 6 or 7 people so go ahead and alter it accordingly...
Lump Crab Mac & Cheese with Truffle Oil
- 1 pound whole wheat pasta shells (you can use elbow macaroni, etc if you prefer)
- 1 quart milk (I used whole milk to ensure creaminess)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 12 ounces Gruyere cheese (I used the stinkiest cave-aged Gruyere I could find!)
- 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar (I used Tillamook vintage-aged white cheddar)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (try white pepper for added kick)
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 8 oz cooked lump crab meat (if you are on a tight budget, use claw meat!)
- 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
- 4 oz Parmesan cheese
- Black Truffle Oil
- Chives, Chopped finely
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Drizzle olive oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.
- Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked shells and crab and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes or one big dish (whichever you prefer).
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top.
- Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese and chives over the bread crumbs
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it looks bubbly and browned on the top.
- Pull out of oven and drizzle each serving with black truffle oil before eating
Tip: Make sure that the rest of your meal is light to balance the richness of the mac and cheese. I went to my local farmers market the day I made this dish and put together a salad with baby greens, fresh raspberries, avocado, and a Meyer lemon tangerine vinaigrette. It was so perfect with the baked pasta.