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Crab Cake Mac N Cheese


  • Salt

  • 1 pound cavatappi or elbow pasta with lines on conchiglie (small fat tube/shell shaped pasta with lines)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 6 tablespoons butter

  • 3 ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 bay leaf

  • About 2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves, several sprigs

  • About 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 3/4 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked for shells and flaked

  • 1 tablespoon seafood seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 1/2 cups milk

  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/3 pound, about 1 rounded cup grated sharp white Cheddar

  • 1/3 pound, about 1 rounded cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese

  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs

  • A generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a couple of handfuls


  • 1.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat, then salt the water. Add the pasta and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, (it will be undercooked). Cool, drain well and add it to a large bowl.

  • 2.

    Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium to medium-high heat. Add the celery, onion, red pepper, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook to tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the crabmeat to the vegetables and season liberally with seafood seasoning. Stir to combine, then remove from heat.

  • 3.

    In a medium sauce pot, over low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk and bring to a bubble. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste, and cook for a few minutes, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Add the mustard and the cheese and stir in a figure 8 motion. Add the vegetables and crab, sauce to the bowl with the pasta and transfer the mixture to individual baking crocks or a large casserole dish. This can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated.

  • 4.

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

  • 5.

    To complete the dish, melt a couple of tablespoons butter in a small skillet, over low heat and add 3 tablespoons hot sauce. Warm through, then add the panko crumbs and toss to evenly coat the crumbs in sauce mixture. Cool the crumbs, then toss in the parsley and 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano -Reggiano cheese. Top the mac n cheese with the spicy crumb mixture. Arrange individual crocks on a baking sheet or put the casserole on baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake until brown and heated through, about 10 minutes. If cooking from cold, the mac n cheese will take 40 to 45 minutes, but add the crumbs the last 10 minutes of baking.

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