Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Fontina, Gouda, GranQueso
Seafood and cheese are two of my very favorite food groups (cheese is a food group in itself), so when I was asked to create a mac and cheese recipe inspired by a classic dish, a seafood mix came to mind – specifically paella. Traditional paella has so much complexity, and I wanted to bring just a hint of that flavor to a mac and cheese made with the boldest melty cheeses in all of Wisconsin. I chose three – Wisconsin Fontina, Gouda and GranQueso® – to come together among whispers of saffron and bites of seafood, peas, and peppers.
This recipe is very easy to make and involves cooking noodles, a cheese sauce and a paella mix and tossing them together in a bowl. I melted together the buttery Fontina and bold, nutty Gouda as the cheese base and topped the finished dish with GranQueso for a bite of sophistication. Use a pound of any kind of seafood you like – shrimp solo, a medley of clams, mussels, lobster and scallops or add some chorizo as well. We kept things simple and used a mix of shrimp, bay scallops and calamari.
The notes of saffron blended with cheesy coated noodles, buttery seafood, spicy peppers and earthy peas. We served heaps of mac alongside simple spinach salads for a special weeknight dinner. The only thing missing was a glass of Spanish wine!
Paella Mac & Cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 pound mixed seafood, shelled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
15-20 saffron threads, divided
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 pound small pasta noodles, such as fusilli, elbows or shells
1 1/2 cups cold milk
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Fontina Cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Gouda Cheese, shredded
1/3 cup (about 1 1/3 ounces) Wisconsin GranQueso Cheese, grated
In large frying pan, heat olive oil; add bell pepper and seafood; sauté over medium heat, adding salt and half the saffron threads. Cook 5-8 minutes until seafood is cooked through and beginning to brown (you may need to let some of the liquid cook off before this happens). Add peas and cook 2-3 minutes more, until peas are cooked and hot; set aside.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions. In separate pan; add milk and whisk in flour; add remaining saffron threads and paprika. Cook mixture over medium-high heat until nearly boiling, stirring frequently. Continue until thickened like cream. Reduce heat to low and add Fontina and Gouda cheeses, 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the cheese is melted.
In large bowl, combine seafood mixture and cheese sauce; mix well. Top with GranQueso Cheese and serve.
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