King Crab Mac & Cheese
The subtle smokiness from the Gouda makes this creamy pasta from the JBF America's Classics Award–winning St. Elmo’s Steak House an unexpectedly delicious counterpoint to the sweet, unadorned crabmeat.
6 to 8 servings
- 1 pound ditalini or other small pasta
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups (1 quart) half-and-half
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 pound smoked Gouda cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
- 3/4 cup coarse bread crumbs or panko
- 8 ounces chopped lump king crab crabmeat
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 2 minutes before al dente. (You want to slightly undercook the pasta as it will continue cooking while in the oven.) Drain and rinse until cool. Set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. When the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour. Place the pan back on the heat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add the half-and-half, cream, 1 tablespoon of salt, the white pepper, black pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and smooth. Add 2 cups of the cheese and stir until the mixture is thoroughly blended and the cheese has melted, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and remaining cheese. Stir to combine.
To assemble the dish, return the pasta to the cooking pot. Add the cream sauce and stir well to combine. Use 1 tablespoon of butter to grease a 2-quart baking dish. Spoon the pasta into the baking dish and top with the bread crumb mixture. Place in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, the bread crumbs are toasted, and the sauce is bubbling, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, gently heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Add the crabmeat, season with a pinch of salt, and sauté just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When the macaroni and cheese is done, remove from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes. Top with the warm crabmeat and serve.