The funniest story about Amanda's little ears is that one time I aided her in a very poor earring choice for our other best friend's wedding. You see, Amanda is really fun and flashy. She likes bold statement pieces when it comes to clothing and jewelery. So when our friend Lauren got married and dictated the bridesmaids must wear pearl studs, Amanda felt limited. I told her not to worry and that we would find pearl studs to fit her style. We went to the department store together and I found a pair of earrings that Amanda swears were the size of the golf balls. What can I say? - she likes to stand out. But considering the minuscule size of her sound detecting organs, huge white spheres may not have been the best choice. The earrings literally drooped down on her lobes and were visible in every photograph that Amanda appeared in that day. Lauren has been married almost five years now and Amanda still reminds me consistently of my fashion misdirection. I learned a valuable lesson that day - bigger isn't always better!
Crawfish Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Emeril Lagassse
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup diced pancetta
- 1/2 cup small diced onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 pound cooked and peeled crawfish tails, with any fat
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta, or small shell pasta, cooked al dente, drained
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 cups grated white Cheddar
- 2 cups grated fontina
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook pasta 10 minutes, drain and set aside.
Set a large, wide-mouthed 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta to the pot and cook the pancetta until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the butter and flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.
Add the half-and-half
and whisk until smooth.
Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Season with the salt, white pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg and cook for 3 minutes. Add the crawfish to the pot and stir to combine.
Remove from the heat and fold in the grated cheeses.
Once combined, stir in cooked pasta. Stir to combine well.
Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish such as a 9 by 13-inch casserole. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the Essence and sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Pour the last 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the breadcrumbs.
Bake uncovered until golden brown and bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes.