BBC Good Food Magazine

Spiced crab mac ’n’ cheese


Old Bay seasoning is an iconic spice blend from Baltimore, Maryland in the US where it’s popularly used on seafood, especially crab and shrimp. The full recipe is closely guarded, but it contains 18 herbs and spices, including paprika, celery salt, pepper and mustard. In this crab mac ‘n’ cheese, the fragrant blend balances the sweetness from the crab. Use fresh picked crab for a special occasion, but canned crab also works well for a quick family dinner.

SERVES 4-6 PREP 25 mins COOK 45 mins EASY

50g butter

6 spring onions, thinly sliced, white

and green parts separated

1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning (available

online, or see recipe, below right) 1 tsp smoked paprika, plus a pinch 1 tbsp tomato purée

50g plain flour 750-800ml whole milk

350g macaroni or penne

150g mature cheddar, grated 50g parmesan, grated

2 tsp Dijon mustard

200g crabmeat (use a mixture of

white and brown)

40g fresh breadcrumb­s

1 Melt the butter in a large pan over a low heat and sizzle the whites of the spring onions, the Old Bay seasoning and the paprika until the butter is foamy and aromatic. Stir in the tomato purée and flour until the ingredient­s form a paste. Cook for another minute or two to toast the flour a little, then turn the heat up to low-medium and add the milk, a little at a time, whisking well until you have a smooth, thick sauce (you may not need all the milk).

2 Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta following pack instructio­ns, then drain and set aside.

3 Stir the cheddar, half of the parmesan, the mustard and crabmeat into the sauce. Check the seasoning – the Old Bay spice mix is salty and spicy, so you may not need to add much salt or pepper. Tip in the cooked pasta and mix well. Pour into a baking dish (ours was 25 x 30cm and 7cm deep). Combine the breadcrumb­s, remaining parmesan, the green parts of the spring onions and a pinch of paprika in a bowl, then scatter over the dish. At this stage, the mac ‘n’ cheese can be cooled completely and chilled overnight, or frozen, well covered, for two months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before baking.

4 To cook, heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/gas 6. Bake the mac ’n’ cheese for 25 mins (add another 10 mins if cooking from chilled) until the topping is golden and crunchy and the sauce is bubbling at the edges.

GOOD TO KNOW calcium

PER SERVING (6) 561 kcals • fat 25g • saturates 15g •

carbs 53g • sugars 7g • fibre 4g • protein 28g •

salt 1.9g

Seafood spice blend

While this blend doesn’t contain 18 ingredient­s, it does pack a huge flavour punch. If you’re using whole spices, grind them to a powder along with the bay leaves, before combining. This will keep in a sealed container at room temperatur­e for up to a month.

MAKES about 50g PREP 5 mins NO COOK EASY V

Combine 11/2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika, 1 tbsp celery salt, 1 tsp English mustard powder, 1/2 tsp ground white pepper, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice, 4 dried bay leaves, ground, and a pinch of ground cloves in a small bowl.

GOOD TO KNOW vegan • gluten free

PER TSP 6 kcals • fat 0.3g • saturates 0.1g • carbs 0.2g

• sugars 0.1g • fibre 0.5g • protein 0.3g • salt 0.9g

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