Maryland Crab Mac And Cheese

September 25, 2012
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

The ultimate comfort food to take off the chill of an autumn evening, this dish is a “souped-up” version of a classic Maryland Crab Imperial, made all the more satisfying (read: decadent) with the addition of pasta, Fontina and prosciutto. Unlike Mac-n’-Cheese with cheddar, the base of the recipe is lighter in flavor: a Béchamel sauce -- the “mother sauce" of French cuisine. Sweat finely diced shallots in butter, add equal parts of flour to make a roux, then add warm milk (half and half) a touch of nutmeg and sherry and you’re on your way to serious yum! —Vivian Henoch

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a new fall standard for guests. I was initially skeptical, as I thought the mac and cheese would overwhelm the delicacy of the crab. However, Vivian Henoch has developed a subtle mac and cheese laced with nutmeg and sherry which complements the crab perfectly. For those of you who don’t eat red meat, good news: adding the prosciutto, while a nice finishing touch, can be totally optional. —minipanda

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup half-n-half (or milk)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup Fontina cheese, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon sherry (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 pound crabmeat, preferably Maryland backfin
  • 1 pound macaroni, or pasta of choice
  • 3 slices prosciutto
  • 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. To make the béchamel: melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and when melted, sweat the shallots. Stir in the flour and gently heat, stirring continuously until the paste cooks and bubbles, 1-2 minutes. Add the half-and-half and stir for 2-3 more minutes.
  3. To béchamel add fontina cheese, nutmeg, sherry, salt and pepper. Add chicken stock. Sauce should be velvety smooth.
  4. Prepare pasta to al dente. Stir sauce into cooked pasta, and add crabmeat. Sprinkle with finely sliced prosciutto, top with panko bread crumbs and heat in oven until bubbling and top is golden brown.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jenn Sigmon
    Jenn Sigmon
  • Vivian Henoch
    Vivian Henoch
  • aargersi
  • Mary Ann Swanson
    Mary Ann Swanson

9 Reviews

Mary A. January 28, 2020
So if I read this correctly, you finely slice the 3 slices of prosciutto, correct?
Vivian H. January 29, 2020
Correct... prosciutto is sliced and tops the baked casserole like a garnish.
Jenn S. December 9, 2018
Could use some tweaking..good base. I added a little more sherry.. I also tossed breadcrumbs with some melted butter and thyme.. I buttered baking dishes before adding pasta crab mixture. I think mascarpone added to bechamel would have added more creaminess. I will make again and might add artichoke and/or spinach. It was a little dry and I did not bake to nearly as dark as the photo..left out the prosciutto.
Mary A. January 28, 2020
Jenn, I am wondering if you tried this recipe again with any other tweaking? Mine is in the oven right now, but the sauce seemed dry (I added a bit more chicken broth and sherry) but not sure that will do the trick. Will see
JenJack February 23, 2014
Can you sub other cheeses for the fontina? Like goat cheese, feta or/and cream cheese? This sounds fantastic, but I don't have any fontina.
Muse September 30, 2012
This sounds decadent...can't wait to try it!
Vivian H. September 25, 2012
Yes! on both counts. Thank you for the correction.

Looks like I forgot to mention the baking-step. Yes, place in baking pan, and In a preheated oven - 350, cook until bubbly.

Like Mac-n-cheese, ya bake it.
aargersi September 25, 2012
You move the whole thing to a baking dish, correct? Sounds dangerously delicious
Vivian H. September 25, 2012
Aargersi, thank you for your careful reading, and correction! Right, on both counts. Looks like I forget to add the baking step.

Yes, you place the sauced-up pasta and crab in a baking dish.

In a pre-heated oven set to 350, you bake until bubbling, and the top is golden brown.
And yes, the recipe is dangerously delicious.