My only regret about yesterday’s foodie lunch is that I couldn’t interrupt my progress by taking pictures. Everything on the menu is something I will make again. However, in the meantime, I’ll relate my journey to shrimp mac and cheese.
When I started on it yesterday morning I knew what I wanted it to be but had no clear concept of how to get there. I wanted it to be loose, as opposed to a more traditional dense mac and cheese. It needed to be just so cheesy and no more. After all cheese and seafood are tricky to balance.
And I was cooking for 10! The timing of getting it ready at just the right moment (so as not to keep my guests waiting, but also having it come to them fresh off the stove) was tricky. The pasta I knew would take 7 minutes. The sauce I was comfortable making ahead. Then there was the problem of the shrimp which would take 3 minutes max to poach. I threw the pasta in right after serving the course that preceded the mac and cheese. And hit on an inventive way to do the shrimp.
Shrimp mac and cheese (10 servings)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 oz. tasso or chorizo, diced fine
2 tbsp flour
4 cups chicken broth
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
¾ cup gruyere cheese, grated
40 shrimp (31-40 count), shelled and cleaned
1 tbsp grill seasoning for seafood
16 oz. mini shell pasta
Using a large skillet, heat the butter and oil. Add the tasso or chorizo to the pan. Saute 1 minute. Whisk in the flour. Cook 1 minute. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add mascarpone and stir to melt it. Cover and remove from the heat. Reheat over low flame while the pasta cooks. It may form a skin on the top, but energetic whisking will make that go away.
Put the shrimp in a heat-proof bowl and toss with the grill seasoning (or use salt and pepper if you prefer). Put a teakettle full of water on to boil.
Drop the pasta into a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Just before the pasta is done pour the boiling water from the teakettle over the shrimp. They will poach in it in just 2-3 minutes, at which point you should drain in a colander.
Use a spider and transfer the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Stir to combine.
Put a ladle full of pasta and sauce on each of 10 heated plates. Top with 4 shrimp each, sprinkle with a pinch of gruyere and serve.
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