Mmm, Thanksgiving, a day of food, food, and more food. While most of us have our traditional menu down pat (for us, it’s turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted veggies, and pie), the holiday can be a good time to try out something a little outside our comfort zones. To that end, I encourage you to try this absolutely scrumptious side dish that features seafood as one of the main ingredients.
Many turkey day feasts come with a side of homemade mac and cheese. It’s an easy comfort food that is well received by guests of all ages, and with the addition of a few easy-to-find ingredients, it becomes a true showstopper. You need: 2 cups macaroni – 1/4 cup butter – 1/4 cup flour – 2 cups half-n-half or whole milk – 2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese – 1/4 tsp paprika – pinch cayenne pepper – 1/2-1 cup cooked & peeled shrimp – 1/2 cup crabmeat (fresh or frozen, well-drained) – 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil – 3 tbsp parmesan cheese – dash of salt and pepper.
In a pot of salted water, cook macaroni according to package directions (usually 8-10 min)
While noodles are cooking, preheat oven to 350 and butter or grease a 8×8 inch baking dish
In a large skillet, melt the butter and add the flour, whisking constantly until the mixture turns a light brown and starts to give off a lovely “cooked” smell. Add the milk or half-n-half, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper, and continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Add 3/4 of the cheddar cheese, and whisk slowly until all ingredients are well combined. Remove from heat.
When macaroni is done cooking, remove from heat, drain well, and return to its cooking pot. Mix in the seafood, basil, and the cheese sauce. Transfer to the baking dish, top with the remaining cheddar cheese and the parmesan cheese, and bake for 25 minutes.
And that’s it! Ridiculously easy and delicious – this dish may even end up on your regular rotation.