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crab mac and cheese

Dungeness crab mac and cheese: Seattle chef Jason Wilson’s family holiday favorite

Jason Wilson's family enjoys this dish on tree-trimming day.

Crab mac and cheese recipe:

James Beard Award-winning chef Jason Wilson (known for now-closed restaurants Miller’s Guild and Crush), joins his wife, Nicole, and their son, Ferrin, to trim their tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving, serving cider spiced with cinnamon, clove, orange, and cardamom.

Everyone that day munches on goodies including spiced pears, sea-salted potatoes with aioli, and mac and cheese — mac and cheese with Dungeness crab and bacon that is which Ferrin has been enjoying since he was a toddler.

crab mac and cheese

Four bright bowls of Dungeness Crab macaroni and cheese ready to go into the oven

Dungeness Crab Mac and Cheese with Bacon

1 lb. large macaroni or ziti

¼ lb. bacon, diced small

1 pound fresh Dungeness crab meat (frozen-thawed is fine too)

1 small yellow onion, small diced (yields roughly ½ cup)

½ cup fresh heavy cream

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 tablespoon butter

½ cup fresh ricotta cheese

1/3 to ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium sauce pot on medium low heat, simmer the bacon until it begins to brown. Remove bacon when it is rendered of its fat and slightly crisp, add the onions to the pan and simmer until they are translucent. Stir often.

Pour the onions and rendered bacon fat in a bowl together with the butter and salt. Add the cream and two cheeses to the pan and bring to a simmer, whisk the mixture well to incorporate the cheeses and pour them into the bowl with the onions. Crumble cooked bacon into mixture and stir.

Squeeze the crab meat gently over a different bowl to remove any excess water from it. Gently mix in the crab meat to the cheese-bacon mix.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blanch the pasta in boiling salted water to cook it three-quarters of the way. Strain the water from the pasta and pour into the “sauce” bowl, gently mix all ingredients and pour them into a baking dish (Pyrex, earthenware or cast iron are all fine).

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, remove from the oven and serve warm.

Originally published in December 2015.

Hungry for more chef holiday family food traditions?   Check out Mexican Wedding Balls from Leslie Mackie and Rice Pudding from Thierry Rautureau.