Elevate Your Tastebuds with Shrimp and Scallops
Mac and cheese is like a versatile actor, stealing the show no matter where it appears. Whether it’s on a kid’s menu, a fancy restaurant, or your own dinner table, mac and cheese shines through. It can be simple with processed orange powder or loaded with succulent shrimp and scallops. Either way, it never fails to satisfy.
But let’s not compare Seafood Mac and Cheese to the boxed stuff. This dish takes mac and cheese to new heights. It’s like NSYNC in 2001, The Office Season 5, or the awe-inspiring Simone Biles of our time.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on lobster mac at an upscale eatery. You can create a sumptuously rich and creamy Seafood Mac and Cheese in the comfort of your own home, at a fraction of the cost.
Let me guide you through the entire process and provide you with all the tips and tricks to make this restaurant-quality dish in your own kitchen!
Unveiling the Ingredients
This recipe is inspired by our immensely popular Creamy Mac and Cheese. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Butter and Flour: These form the base of the roux, which thickens the sauce.
- Milk and Half and Half: The perfect combination for richness and creaminess.
- The Three Cheese Trifecta: Monterey Jack, Cheddar, and Pecorino.
- Seasonings: Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika for a delightful kick.
- Seafood: Shrimp and bay scallops are the stars of this dish. For a truly extravagant experience, consider adding crab and/or lobster as well!
- Pasta: Any short pasta will work. Elbows are traditional, but you can also go for heartier options like cavatappi or orecchiette (shells).
Crafting the Perfect Seafood Mac and Cheese
Step 1: Cook the Seafood and Pasta
Start by boiling a pot of salted water. While the pasta cooks, let’s prepare the seafood. Season the shrimp and scallops, then heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a splash of olive oil to coat the pan and cook the seasoned seafood for about 1½ minutes per side, until the shrimp turns pink and opaque. Set the seafood aside on a plate as you continue with the pasta.
Step 2: Create the Bechamel Sauce
Every great mac and cheese recipe starts with a velvety bechamel sauce. Melt butter in a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until well combined, cooking for about 2-3 minutes until lightly browned.
Before making the bechamel, warm up the milk and half and half until they are hot to the touch. This ensures a smooth sauce without any clumps. Slowly add the warmed milk mixture to the pot, whisking constantly. At first, the mixture will bubble and appear thick, but it will gradually thin out as you incorporate more liquid.
Continue cooking, whisking occasionally, until the sauce slightly thickens for about 3-5 minutes. It should coat the back of a spoon. To check if it’s ready, run your finger through the mixture, and the line should hold.
Turn down the heat to low and stir in the seasonings. Taste and adjust as needed. Add the cheeses gradually, stirring until melted. If the sauce seems too thick, add a splash of milk or half and half, little by little, until it reaches a thick yet creamy consistency.
Step 3: Broil and Serve
Combine the pasta and seafood in a deep dish pie plate or casserole dish. Stir in the sauce until everything is well coated. Sprinkle some additional shredded cheese on top, and then place the dish under the broiler until the cheese melts and the sauce starts to bubble. Your Seafood Mac and Cheese is now ready to be savored!
Pro Tips to Enhance Your Culinary Adventure
- Don’t skip warming the milk! It’s crucial for achieving a smooth sauce without any clumps.
- Use freshly shredded cheese to avoid any additives that may hinder smooth melting. A food processor can make shredding large amounts of cheese a breeze.
- If the sauce becomes too thick, fear not! Simply add warm milk gradually until the desired consistency is achieved.
- Adjust the heat level to your liking. The recipe as written offers a pleasant warmth, but you can increase the cayenne pepper and Cajun seasoning for a spicier kick.
- The amount of pasta can be adjusted based on your preference. For a creamier and saucier mac and cheese, use less pasta with this amount of sauce. However, feel free to add up to 3 cups if you prefer a higher pasta-to-sauce ratio. Start with the full amount and decide what works best for you.
- A 9.5-inch deep dish pie dish or a 9-inch square casserole dish are ideal for baking this dish. If you’re feeding a crowd, double the recipe and bake it in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.
- If you prefer a crumb topping, you can bake the Seafood Mac and Cheese instead of broiling. Check out our Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese with Panko Breadcrumbs for instructions on adding breadcrumbs and baking times.
- Any leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge. Simply reheat them on the stovetop by adding a splash of milk or bake them in the oven until warmed through.
Perfect Pairings for Seafood Mac and Cheese
If you’re looking for a complete steakhouse experience, serve Seafood Mac and Cheese as a luxurious side dish alongside Steak and Scallops or a sizzling Cast Iron Ribeye.
If you want to make Seafood Mac and Cheese the star of the show, complement it with a Creamy Caesar Salad, Easy Garden Salad, or some delightful Air Fryer Asparagus.
Indulge in this ultimate comfort food and elevate your taste buds with the sensational combination of shrimp, scallops, and creamy cheese sauce. Your taste buds will thank you!
For more delectable dishes and an unforgettable dining experience, visit Hook’d Up Bar and Grill.