But with the onset of the Pinterest craze, that delicious dish has experienced a resurgence. Comments and emails are flowing in about the yummy dish on a daily basis and I couldn't be happier. It deserves to be one of the stars of this blog because it is an insanely delicious classic that is super easy to make and I don't know a person who isn't in love with cheesy, gooey baked pasta. I make my Mac and Cheese a lot! I always bring it to family holiday gatherings, I make it a few times a year with a pot of chili, I make it when the weather first turns cold and I am craving comfort food and I make it anytime that I am searching for that famous familiarity of the dish. But even though I probably make it 8-10 times a year, I have never thought of it as much as I have been lately. With all the recent comments, I decided to visit the Analytic tracker for my blog and I was blown away at the number of hits that dish received.
So realizing more than ever that Macaroni and Cheese is something that people can not get enough of, I decided to search for some other interesting takes on the classic. This Crab Mac recipe was so appealing to me because it seemed to be a grown-up, decadent spin on the very famous classic and what sold me was the incorporation of fontina cheese - a favorite of mine! This "Gratin" was a truly indulgent treat and a great way to participate in the Mac and Cheese craze I have been a part of lately.
Crab, Pasta and Cheese Gratin
Adapted from William Sonoma
- 3/4 lb. rigatoni pasta
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
- 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk, heated
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, heated
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
- Ground nutmeg, to taste
- 1 lb. lump crabmeat, picked over for shell pieces
- 3 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
- 1/2 cup finely shredded fontina
- 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-
- 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs. finely shredded white
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water to halt the cooking and drain again. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 Tbs. of the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until fully incorporated, about 3 minutes; do not allow to brown.
Slowly add the milk and cream, whisking constantly.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Add the sauce to the macaroni and mix well.
Fold in the crabmeat,
and 1/2 cup each of the fontina, Parmigiano-Reggiano and cheddar cheeses.
Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Top with the 3 Tbs. each Parmigiano-Reggiano and cheddar, sprinkling evenly over the surface. Then sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Finally, cut the remaining 2 Tbs. butter into bits and use to dot the top of the gratin.
Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.