February 03, 2010

Asiago & Crab Macaroni & Cheese

16 oz lump crab meat
12 oz evaporated milk PLUS enough milk to equal 2 cups
2 cups shredded asiago
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper
minced Italian parsley
1 lb small or medium sized pasta, cooked (I used cavatappi aka cellentani)

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and spices and stir until smooth. Add the milk, mustard and evaporated milk and whisk together until slightly thickened. Whisk in the asagio until smooth. Stir in the crab meat. Pour over the drained pasta. Pour into a lightly oiled baking dish with a lid. Top with a sprinkle of panko and parsley. Bake covered about 15 minutes, then uncover and cook until hot and bubbly, about 10-15 additional minutes.

Yield: 4-6 meal sized servings or about 8 side dish sized servings.

My thoughts:
When the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board approached me about developing a recipe using a Wisconsin cheese to share on their new Macaroni & Cheese Blog, I couldn't say no. It had been entirely too long since I made mac & cheese. I decided to use fresh asagio because it has long been a favorite. While I've had lobster macaroni and cheese before, I've never had crab. Being a Baltimore girl, this just seemed wrong. I had to make a crab macaroni and cheese and asagio seemed like the perfect cheese to pair it with, mild enough that it wouldn't overpower the crab but distinctly flavored and most importantly, it melts well. Adding smoked paprika and mustard gave it some bite and blended seamlessly into the simple cheese sauce. It ended up being a very easy but elegant macaroni and cheese. Fancy enough for company but quick enough for a weeknight.