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  • Marissa

One Skillet Cajun Crab Gnocchi Mac and Cheese


I'm the type of girl that doesn't like to mess with a good thing.


I've been wearing the same Ed Hardy perfume since high school. I pay for a Lyft every month to get my eyebrows done in Somerville, even though I live in Southie. I'll even spend hours researching Yelp reviews and scrutinizing menus only to order the same Thai dish from the same Thai restaurant (and I get Pad Thai because it's the first thing I've ever gotten and I haven't looked back).


So when I discovered North Coast Seafoods' amazingly fresh and flavorful products in my last blog post, I couldn't wait to see what else they had to offer.

Admittedly, I started off with their shrimp because shrimp is something I know. I've cooked with it before; I've had it in a variety of ways in a variety of dishes. I knew what to expect and I knew how to judge it. But after passing my taste test, I wanted to kick my seafood game up a notch.


So here's the truth, I've never cooked with crab before it just looked so intimidating! I imagined myself having to put a live shellfish into a boiling pot and then muscling out the little bits of meat until my hands were sore. It had a flavor I loved but it just didn't seem worth the work.


So when I spotted that Culinary Reserve's Colossal Crab Meat was already hand-picked and ready to eat, I was pumped. Wild-caught Blue Swimming Crab that's immediately steamed and chilled for freshness brought the flavors of the Indonesian Spice Islands to my tiny South Boston kitchen.


And as a North Coast Seafoods product, I was confident this crab was top-quality. There's honestly nothing worse than suspicious seafood, but as a family-owned company, North Coast knows how important is it to be a product people trust, and they thoroughly inspect every finfish and shellfish for excellence. They've even built their own in-house microbiological laboratory to guarantee the freshness and safety of every product they offer and commit to sustainable fishing practices. Your food is basically going from dock to door.

So I had procured the crab, but what to do with it? Living in Boston, one of the most common side dishes is lobster mac. Delicious as it may be, it's a bit overdone. So I thought to myself, what if I subbed the seafood for a shellfish that's a little more delicate, breaking up within the dish and ensuring that each bite is filled with flavor. And the more I thought about it, the more the sweet Blue Crab would be a perfect complement to Cajun spices. Add in my favorite pasta, and I knew that I had a winner on my hands.


My favorite part of this dish? It's all in one skillet! No pre-boiling pasta, steaming the crab, doing a zillion dishes, or causing a mess. It's also gives you no excuse to make it often, especially on these chilly winter nights. Smothered in three cheeses, buttery breadcrumbs, fresh veggies, and plenty of crab weaving its way around every gnocchi, it's the perfect cozy comfort food.

One Skillet Cajun Crab Gnocchi Mac and Cheese


Serves Four (by my heart says one)


Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Culinary Reserve Colossal Crab Meat

  • 7 tbsp. butter, divided

  • 1/4 cup red pepper, diced

  • 1/4 cup onion, diced

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

  • 1 cup cheddar, shredded

  • 1 cup mozzarella, shredded

  • 1 cup parmesan, grated and divided

  • 3 tsp. Cajun spice (your favorite brand or make your own!)

  • 16 oz. uncooked gnocchi

  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Cooking Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

  2. Add 2 tbsp. of butter to a medium cast iron skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the peppers and onions and sauté for about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Set the veggies aside.

  3. Melt 3 tbsp. of butter in the skillet and add the flour. Make a roux by whisking constantly until it's a golden brown and thickens, about 2-3 minutes.

  4. Pour in the heavy cream and milk. Whisk it together and bring to a simmer to thicken. Add the salt and pepper (adjust to taste).

  5. Toss in the cheddar, mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of the parmesan. Stir until it's fully melted. Add the cooked veggies back in as well as the Cajun spice, and mix.

  6. Stir in the Culinary Reserve Colossal Crab Meat.

  7. Add in the uncooked gnocchi, mix until it's smothered in cheese, and spread the top so the skillet is level. Remove it from heat.

  8. To make the panko topping, put the remaining butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and melt. Add in the panko and mix, then add in the parmesan and mix. Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping evenly over the skillet.

  9. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the dish is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Have you tried this recipe? Let me know what you think in the comments!