Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rachael Ray's Week in a Day: Crab Cake Mac and Cheese

As a continuation of THIS post, here is the 2nd make-ahead recipe I did on my "cook day".

Ok, first of all, the work was done, all I did was bake it.  And eat it!  And boy was it good!  Rich and creamy with pretty colorful dots of veggies and the wonderful toungue-melting flavor of the crab.

So #2 of Rachael's new show that has impressed me...

Crab Cake Mac N Cheese (Adapted from Rachael Ray Week in a Day)

  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound cavatappi or elbow pasta with lines on conchiglie (small fat tube/shell shaped pasta with lines)
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • About 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small can lump crab meat, rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 teaspoons seafood seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup shredded or cubed cheese - I used a combo of swiss, sharp cheddar and smoked gouda
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • A generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat, then salt the water. Add the pasta and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, (it will be undercooked). Cool, drain well and add it to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onion, red pepper, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook to tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the crabmeat to the vegetables and season liberally with seafood seasoning. Stir to combine, then remove from heat.

In a medium sauce pot, over low heat, melt 1/2 tablespoons butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk and bring to a bubble. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste, and cook for a few minutes, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Add the mustard and the cheese and stir in a figure 8 motion. Add the vegetables and crab, sauce to the bowl with the pasta and transfer the mixture to individual baking crocks or a large casserole dish. This can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To complete the dish, melt a tablespoon butter in a small skillet, over low heat and add 2 tablespoons hot sauce. (NOTE:  I did not use butter but left it in in case you wanted to) Warm through, then add the panko crumbs and toss to evenly coat the crumbs in sauce mixture. Cool the crumbs, then toss in the parsley. Top the mac n cheese with the spicy crumb mixture. Arrange individual crocks on a baking sheet or put the casserole on baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake until brown and heated through, about 10 minutes. If cooking from cold, the mac n cheese will take 40 to 45 minutes, but add the crumbs the last 10 minutes of baking.

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