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Creamy Crabby Mac and Cheese for your perfect Super Bowl 2014 party

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The Denver Broncos will take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII today in New Jersey; and we know you’re going to be huddled around your TV. But do you also want to wow your Super Bowl party guests? Sure: cook up the chicken wings and potato salad; but then move beyond them to a totally gourmet, decadent, comforting dish such as Creamy Crabby Mac and Cheese. You can assemble the ingredients before everyone arrives (known as mis en place in professional kitchens), stir the sauce up during a “dull” game moment, and pop the casserole in the oven to be ready for halftime.

Create Creamy Crabby Mac and Cheese as part of your Super Bowl buffet, and then bookmark the recipe to use on a special occasion later in the year. How about Valentine’s Day, or your sweetie’s birthday – or your own, for that matter?

Creamy Crabby Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • small amount of butter to grease baking dish
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2cup chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk (can use part evaporated milk)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup Cheddar, shredded
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon Penzeys Tuscan Sunset
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 pound small shell pasta
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt for the pasta water
  • 8 ounces crab
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan-Reggiano, finely grated

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9x13-inch baking dish or other 3-quart shallow casserole. Begin to bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the 2 tablespoons butter.
  3. Add shallots and garlic; cook until light golden, about 3 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle flour over shallot-garlic mixture; cook, stirring often, 1 minute.
  5. Add wine; stir with a wooden spoon, picking up any browned bits from bottom of pan and reducing wine a bit (i.e., boil it for about a minute).
  6. Add chicken broth; stir until blended.
  7. Whisk in milk and cream until smooth.
  8. Add Cheddar a handful at a time, stirring until melted.
  9. Add mascarpone; stir until mixture is well-combined and beginning to thicken.
  10. Stir in salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, Tuscan Sunset, and lemon zest. Remove from heat.
  11. Meanwhile, when water in pot comes to a boil, toss in the 1 tablespoon Kosher salt and add the pasta, stirring well to separate the pieces of pasta. Boil to al dente according to package directions (do not overcook). Drain pasta.
  12. Stir pasta and crab into cheese sauce.
  13. Turn into buttered casserole dish.
  14. Combine panko crumbs, Parmesan-Reggiano, and the 1 tablespoon melted butter; sprinkle crumb mixture over macaroni and cheese.
  15. Bake in pre-heated oven until top is brown and cheese is bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.

Makes 6 generous main course servings, or lots more if you accompany it with a vegetable and salad or serve it as part of a buffet

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