Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese.
Shell pasta with a creamy and garlicky cheddar and gruyere cheese sauce, topped with barbecue sauce glazed shrimp, panko crumbs and more cheese. This is a ridiculously delicious and very rich mac and cheese. True classic comfort food with a smoky barbeque shrimp twist!
This dish serves a crowd. It weighs A TON – you’ll use those muscles putting it in and out of the oven. And a little scoop goes a very long way because it’s so rich. I recommend serving it with a nice leafy green salad with a citrus vinaigrette – this will help cut through the richness and add lightness and freshness to the meal.
The sweet smokiness of the barbeque shrimp pair really nicely with the creaminess and nuttiness of the cheesy pasta – and the crunch of the panko on top is perfection.
What cheeses do you use for mac and cheese?
We love using a combination of cheeses – in this case, Cabot Alpine Cheddar (which has hints of parmesan and Swiss and is probably my favorite cheese ever) and gruyere cheese. Both melt very nicely and give a nutty, rich and elevated flavor and creamy texture to this seafood mac and cheese. A sharp cheddar would work as well.
One very important tip – don’t use pre-shredded cheese. Grate it yourself. Pre-shredded cheeses typically have additives that prevent them from sticking together. Yes, it will take a few extra minutes to grab the grater and shred the two cheeses, but it’s well worth it.
Can you use other types of seafood for this mac and cheese?
If you’re not a fan of shrimp, feel free to sub out scallops, crab or lobster. You’ll just need to adjust cooking time according to seafood doneness.
I used raw, deveined, tail-on collosal shrimp (13-15 shrimp per lb) for this dish, but you can use smaller shrimp if you prefer. When buying shrimp, make sure you’re purchasing domestic or sustainably sourced shrimp. Look for the BAP or ASC third party certifications on the label. And make sure the shrimp have nothing added to them – no additives or chemicals. Some shrimp are treated with sodium bisulfite and tripolyphosphate – so read your labels and ingredient lists! And remember, frozen shrimp is typically fresher than “fresh” shrimp, which may have been sitting at the seafood counter for longer than ideal.
One last tip – don’t use pre-cooked shrimp here. If you do, the shrimp will be overcooked and rubbery. Use frozen raw shrimp that have been deveined. All you have to do is thaw them and shell them, which only takes a few minutes.
How do you make this shrimp macaroni and cheese?
This is not a dish that you’re going to make on a weeknight, because it requires time and a few steps. It’s well worth the additional effort.
- Cook the pasta until almost al dente then pour into a baking dish.
- Heat the butter, add the flour (to make a roux), then add the shallot and garlic.
- Add the milk to the flour/butter mixture, stirring constantly until steaming. Remove from heat.
- Stir in 3/4 of the grated cheeses, whisking constantly until the cheese is combined and creamy.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta.
- Pat the shrimp very dry.
- Brush the shrimp with barbeque sauce on both sides.
- Nestle the shrimp into the mac and cheese.
- Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the dish, followed by panko crumbs.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly, golden brown and the shrimp are cooked through and opaque.
- Top mac and cheese with freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with barbeque sauce.
Here’s how to make this BBQ Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese.
Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb large shell pasta
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 shallots finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 12 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese freshly grated, do NOT use store bought pre-grated. reserve 1/4 of the cheese for topping
- 7 ounces Gruyere cheese freshly grated save 1/4 of the cheese for topping
- 1/2 lb shrimp colossal, raw, deveined and shelled, patted dry
- 1/4 cup barbeque sauce plus more for drizzling when serving
- 1 cup plain panko crumbs
- Fresh parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Boil a large pot of salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, until barely al dente, about 12 minutes, adjust depending on the pasta you use. Drain and pour into a +/-9x9 baking dish and set aside.
- In the same large pot you used to boil the pasta, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the minced shallot and garlic sauté on low for 2-3 minutes until softened and fragrant.
- Stir in the milk slowly, constantly whisking over medium low heat until milk is steaming, but not boiling. Remove milk from heat and add salt and pepper.
- Small handful by handful, whisk the cheese into the milk, until you have roughly ¼ of the cheese remaining (you’ll add that to the top of the dish later). Continue whisking until cheese sauce is relatively smooth. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta.
- Pat shrimp very dry. Brush on both sides with barbeque sauce. Discard any remaining sauce that has touched the raw shrimp. Nestle shrimp into the top of the mac and cheese.
- Top pasta with remaining cheese and panko crumbs. Place baking dish into the oven for 25-30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly, shrimp is cooked through and topping is lightly browned.
- Remove from oven. Drizzle with bbq sauce. Top with freshly ground black pepper. Serve.
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