Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli knows a thing or two about getting a delicious dinner on the table. But if you really want to wow your guests, bookmark this recipe: Crab Macaroni and Cheese. And while you may think succulent, tender crab is what makes this dish so dreamy, you'd only be partially correct. Chef Alex's secret addition? Chardonnay wine. "I am always looking for simple ways to enhance classic recipes," she tells Southern Living. "The wine [illuminates] the crabmeat and makes this dish hard to resist!"
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Here, Swiss, cheddar, and Parmesan mingle with Dijon mustard, heavy cream, Tabasco, and more to balance out crab's mildly sweet flavor. "Any type of crab will work for this recipe: fresh, frozen or canned. If the crab is frozen, simply defrost in the refrigerator and drain of all excess liquid before adding to the macaroni," she explains. "If canned, thoroughly drain crab of liquid before using. Also, taste the crab before adding to the macaroni. You may find it needs salt and pepper before mixing in for added flavor."
Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s Crab Macaroni and Cheese
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: ~30 minutes (mostly inactive) Servings: 4-6
Wine and Pasta Ingredients:
- 2 cups Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay (or Chardonnay of choice)
- Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi x Jacobsen Cabernet Sauvignon Salt to taste (or sea salt of choice)
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3½ cups grated Swiss cheese
- ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco
- 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked of any shell bits
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs, toasted
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Reduce the wine: In a medium pot, reduce the wine over medium heat until the liquid measures about ½ cup, five-to-eight minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
- Cook the pasta: In a large pot, bring four quarts water and two tablespoons of the wine salt to a rolling boil. It should taste like seawater. Stir in the macaroni and cook but leave quite firm, six-to-eight minutes. Drain the reserve pasta, keeping some of the cooking liquid.
- Make the macaroni sauce: In the same pot holding the reduced wine, add the cream and the mustard to a simmer gently over medium-low heat with a pinch of wine salt or salt. Stir in the three cups of the Swiss cheese, all of the cheddar and ½ of the Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire and Tabasco and warm until cheese melts, three-to-five minutes.
- Finish the dish: Add the macaroni to the cream and stir gently to blend. Allow the macaroni to “rest” on the stove, five-to-ten minutes, so the pasta absorbs the flavors. Transfer half of the macaroni to an ovenproof baking dish (about 9” x 13”), sprinkle with an even layer of about half of the crab. Gently layer on the remaining macaroni and crab.
- Make the breadcrumb mix and finish the dish: In a medium bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with remaining Swiss and Parmesan cheeses and parsley. Top the pasta with the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven 15-20 minutes or until browned and hot.
Now, for the perfect salad to balance out this decadent dish, try one of these 68 quick and delicious summer salads.