Mac & Cheese is one of the traditional classic dish of all times. There is nothing more comforting than the home style, creamy, gooey, rich, hot mac & cheese. Growing up as a kid it was not our traditional meal and we only had it on rare occasions from the boxed packet. 99% of the time it was fresh home cooked meal for us and burgers, pizzas and any cheese dishes were not considered healthy or nutritious. Well, I guess we always crave for what we don’t have.
Few days back my friend and her daughters decided to spend a day over at my place and every time I have kids over, I get nervous because kids are very difficult to please when it comes to food. Their pickiness towards vegetable makes cooking difficult. I still remember, once a 6 year old told me that she doesn’t always like my food because she thinks I put lot of vegetables and it’s too healthy for her 😉 that was too cute and really adorable though. Well this time I decided to make up for all those childhood cheesy cravings and thought to myself that it has to be a mac and cheese day and who doesn’t like the cheesiness of this dish 🙂
Traditionally this dish has 3 ingredients – macaroni, cheese and butter; however there are lots of variations to it and everyone makes it their own way. Since I am a big fan of seafood, I used crab meat in it. The sweet nutty flavor of fontina cheese; the buttery, creamy and mild flavor of Havarti cheese and the sharpness of Cheddar cheese make this crabby mac and cheese to die for.
- 3 cups milk
- Little bit oil
- 1 pound pasta
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 8 ounces of cheddar cheese
- 6 ounces fontina cheese
- 6 ounces Havarti cheese
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound cooked crab meat
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp mustard powder
- Few slices of bread for crumbs
- Ribbons of basil
- Preheat the oven to 375°
- Boil a big pot of water and add salt.
- Cook the pasta in the boiling water as per directions on the packet (6-8 minutes).
- Warm the milk on stove but do not boil it.
- In another pan melt the butter. Add flour and cook to make roux.
- Add warm milk to the roux while vigorously whisking to avoid any lumps.
- Add bay leaf, mustard powder and nutmeg powder. Cook to make a nice creamy thick bechamal sauce also known as white sauce.
- Turn off the cooking and add all the cheese. season with salt and pepper.
- Add cooked pasta, crab meat and basil and stir well.
- Pour this mixture into 6-8 individual dishes or or into 1 big baking dish.
- Put the slices of bread in food processor. Add few springs of basil and pulse it to form crumbs. Sprinkle these crumbs on top of the dish.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes and broil it for last 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and get brown at the top.
- Serve immediately.
- I used tirali pasta but any tube style pasta can be used because the creamy sauce flows in the cooked tubes making every bite flavorful.