Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Pepper Jack, Aged Cheddar
The 30 days of macaroni and cheese are back! I am all-in with anything that involves large amounts of pasta and Wisconsin Cheese, so creating these recipes is right up my alley! This year, WMMB put a new spin on the mac n’ cheese recipes; we’re taking favorite classic dishes and turning them into macaroni and cheese. The possibilities for this concept are absolutely endless, and I had a heck of a time narrowing down my ideas. In the end, I settled on a rendition of Cajun shrimp, which is a popular dish in the South. Spicy shrimp is cooked up and served alongside rice and grits or a loaf of bread for sopping up the spicy sauce (yum). I thought that spicy shrimp would be the perfect pairing for a creamy mac and cheese dish; turns out, I was right!
I loaded up my favorite basic baked macaroni and cheese recipe with spicy shrimp, Wisconsin Pepper Jack Cheese for an extra kick, and topped it with light-as-air panko bread crumbs. The dish isn’t too spicy (my mom is really sensitive to spicy dishes, and she thought the mac and cheese was fabulous), so if you like your Cajun shrimp to be fiery hot, I’d add a little cayenne pepper to the blend of seasonings. All in all, the creamy, cheesy pasta is the perfect partner for the spicy shrimp. A match made in heaven, for sure.
Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, divided
1 pound cavatappi pasta
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
3 cups (12 ounces) Wisconsin Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded and divided
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Aged Cheddar Cheese, shredded and divided
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 9×13-inch casserole dish.
In 10-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add shrimp and 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp is pink and cooked through. Remove pan from heat; set aside.
Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to al dente according to package directions. Drain; set aside.
Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook about 1 minute, whisking constantly, until flour starts to brown a bit and smells nutty. Slowly add milk; whisking constantly. Allow sauce to come to simmer.
Once sauce reaches simmer; mix in 2 1/4 cups Pepper Jack and 1 1/2 cups Cheddar Cheese, adding a handful at a time, stirring with wooden spoon until completely melted before adding next handful. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper; turn off heat.
Add cooked, drained pasta and shrimp to sauce. Stir with wooden spoon until ingredients are evenly distributed. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.
In small bowl, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add panko crumbs; mix well. Sprinkle macaroni and cheese with remaining shredded cheeses. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture on top of cheese.
Bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
(Recipe adapted from ABC News)
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