I am not going to lie, it is pretty hard to beat my iconic and infamous blue cheese and dried fig Mac n cheese when it comes to the best Mac game BUT OH MY this velvety, spicy and creamy crab Mac n cheese a serious contender.
The blend of spices combined with brown and white crab meat plus a smooth cheese sauce works an absolute dream and me and my dinner companion could not help ourselves from going for seconds.
A new favourite and sure to be added to the regular recipe rotation.
- 200 grams Gruyere cheese
- 30g freshly grated Parmesan
- 30g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace (stocked at Waitrose)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Pul Biber (a traditional Turkish condiment of salted and oiled flakes of dried red pepper. Also known as Aleppo pepper. You can get it at Waitrose and it really does add a wow factor when added to the dish so try to get your hands on some!)
- 500 millilitres full fat milk
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 50g unsalted butter
- 2 fat cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 400g conchiglie rigate pasta
- 100g white crab meat
- 100g brown crab meat
- Grate the Gruyère into a bowl and add the 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan.
- Mix the flour with the spices in a small cup.
- Pour the milk into a measuring jug and stir in the tablespoon of tomato purée.
- Put a pan of water on to boil for the pasta.
- Find a heavy-based saucepan
- Over lowish heat, melt the butter, then peel and mince or grate in the garlic and stir it around in the pan quickly. Turn the heat up to medium and add the flour and spices.
- Whisk over the heat until it all coheres into an orange, fragrant, loose paste; this will take no longer than a minute.
- It soon looks like tangerine-tinted foaming honeycomb.
- Take off the heat and very gradually whisk in the tomatoey milk, until it’s completely smooth.
- Use a spatula to scrape down any sauce that’s stuck to the sides of the pan.
- Put back on the heat, turn up to medium and cook, stirring, until it has thickened and lost any taste of flouriness; this will take anything from 3 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in the Worcestershire sauce.
- Take the pan off the heat and stir in the grated cheeses.
- Put a lid on the saucepan, or cover tightly with foil, and leave on the hob, but with the heat off, while you get on with the pasta.
- If you have an electric or ceramic hob it may be better to take the pan off completely.
- So, add salt to the boiling water in the pasta pan, then add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions, though start checking it a couple of minutes earlier.
- When the pasta is just about al dente, add the crabmeat to the smoky cheese sauce, then once you’re happy that the pasta shells are ready, use a spider to lift them into the sauce or drain them, reserving some pasta-cooking liquid first, and drop the shells in.
- Stir over lowish heat until the crabmeat is hot.
- If you want to make the sauce any more fluid, as indeed you might, add as much of the pasta-cooking water as you need.
- Taste to see if you want to add salt – the crab meat you get in tubs tends to be quite salty already, but if you’ve got yours from your fishmonger, it might need it.
- Divide between bowls and ENJOY!