This post was sponsored by BrandBacker, and all opinions are solely my own.
To say that we love to eat macaroni and cheese in our home is an understatement. Macaroni and cheese has been a part of our menus for as long as I can remember. What’s even more of a favorite is cheese. My son could eat cheese all day long if we allowed him. So it was no wonder I had to come up with a twist on our family favorite, shrimp macaroni and cheese.
Most macaroni and cheese dishes contain cheddar cheese. I wanted to go outside the box on my dish, and Parmigiano Reggiano had to be the main cheese. And with us being from Louisiana, shrimp had to be that extra twist. This momma loves her some shrimp.
What is Parmigiano Reggiano?
With only 3 ingredients: milk, salt, and rennet, and 8 centuries of cheese making experience goes into each Parmigiano Reggiano wheel. Due to the long aging process of Parmigiano Reggiano, it is naturally lactose-free. It is also easily digestible and the perfect source for both protein and calcium. Can I say mom win on this? Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is made in Italy, specifically the area of Parma. Hence the name. Not all parmesean cheese is actually from Parm.
So how do you know it is the real deal?
When you are specifically using Parmigiano Reggiano, it is indeed from Parma. The Parmigiano Reggiano wedge will have pin-dots on the rind. This is how you know you have the real deal! Having this wedge in your fridge is the best way to go! It can be freshly grated from the wedge for the most intense flavor. I of course had to grate it for not only the cheese sauce, but also for the breadcrumb topping!
If you are looking for a fun and delicious twist on the original macaroni and cheese recipe, then this one is a must try!
Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese with Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 lb dry elbow noodles
- 1 lb raw shrimp, 51/60 count, peeled and deveined Can use a little larger if desired
- 3 cups 2% or Whole Milk
- 1 wedge Parmigiano Reggiano
- 2 cups italian cheese blend
- 4 tbs All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs, Italian seasoned
- 6 tbs Butter, unsalted
- 1 tbs Italian Seasoning
- 1 tsp cajun seasoning
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Prepare a 9x13 baking dish by spraying with a nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cook elbow noodles according to package
- While noodles are cooking, melt 1 tbs of butter into a large skillet. Add shrimp and cajun seasoning. Cook until pink and then remove from heat. Set aside.
- Grate 1 1/2 cups of Parmigiano Reggiano from wedge and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, add 4 tbs of butter and melt over medium heat. Add flour and stir continuously for about 1-2 minutes, until flour starts to brown a little bit. Slowly add in milk, and continue to stir until the flour and milk are well incorporated into a sauce. Allow for the sauce to come to a simmer.
- Once the sauce comes to a simmer, it is time to add in the cheese. Add the Italian blend and stir until completed melted before adding the Parmigiano Reggiano. Continue to stir until all the cheese has melted. Add in the seasonings: salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Turn off the heat.
- Add the cooked, drained pasta along with the shrimp to the cheese sauce. Stir until everything is well combined. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
- Make the topping: Mix the Panko breadcrumbs with 1 tbs of melted butter and 1/2 cup of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Sprinkle it on top of the prepared dish.
- Bake for 20 minutes covered, and then for another 5 minutes uncovered. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.