9 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, divided
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 pound cavatappi pasta (or shaped pasta of your choice)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
12 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, shredded (about 3 cups), divided
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Heat a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta; cover.
2. In a 10-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the shrimp and ½ teaspoon of the Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is all pink and cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the box directions for al dente pasta (if your box doesn’t specify al dente, cook it for 1 to 2 minutes shorter than the time called for – it shouldn’t be cooked the whole way through). When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander.
4. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until the flour starts to brown a bit and smells nutty, whisking constantly. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.
5. Once the sauce comes to a simmer, stir in 9 ounces each of the Pepper Jack and 6 ounces of the cheddar cheese, adding a handful at a time and stirring with a wooden spoon until completely melted before adding the next handful. Season with the remaining ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper, and turn off the heat.
6. Add the cooked, drained pasta and shrimp to the sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined and evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
7. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter with the Panko bread crumbs.
8. Sprinkle the macaroni and cheese with the remaining shredded cheeses. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of the cheese.
9. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
recipe from brown eye baker