Shrimp, preserved lemon and saffron mac and cheese

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I am off to Beirut on Saturday evening and I have already started planning my Sunday morning breakfast. What should I start with? A chocolate and halawa pancake or my favourite kishk and cheese mankouche? This is so exciting, my stomach and I cannot wait!

So this mac and cheese! I’ve been making it for a while at home until I finally decided that the recipe would be a great addition to the blog and more specifically an amazing side for any celebration! It’s a classic mac and cheese that has a light Moroccan-ish kick. It’s just as satisfying as its basic version except that it has preserved lemon and saffron! And shrimp because it’s the holiday season and we want to make something extra special and swanky. I shot this recipe a while ago but my computer broke and then I couldn’t post it so I am super relieved to be able to share it just in time before the end of the year festivities!

On another note, I wanted to say thank you so so so much to everyone who commented on my social media accounts and sent me messages to congratulate me on my book Casablanca. This book is for you, and I can’t wait for it to be out so you guys can start cooking from it! Because if you liked the blog, you are going to LOVE the book!

Happy holidays friends, hoping for a more peaceful 2018. See you next year. Xx

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Shrimp, saffron and preserved lemon mac and cheese

INGREDIENTS

Serves 6

  • 50 gr unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 50 gr plain flour
  • 650 ml milk
  • 180 gr grated mature cheddar or Gruyere or mix of both + 4 tablespoons mature cheddar for topping
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 small preserved lemons, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 generous pinches of saffron
  • 300 gr shrimps, peeled and chopped
  • 350 gr macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs, any type

METHOD

• Start by making the white sauce. Melt the butter in a large deep skillet or saucepan over low heat, then add the flour and paprika. Stir vividly for 2 minutes using a wooden spoon until you obtain a smooth paste. For your information this paste is called a “roux”.

• Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in tablespoons of milk into the paste, until the paste becomes creamy and then liquid. The more milk you will add, the thinner the paste will get. Once a quarter of the milk has been incorporated, add in the rest of the milk and stir until well incorporated. It is important to do this step gradually, otherwise you will obtain lumps in your white sauce.

• Return the pan to the heat and increase the heat to medium-high. Stirring constantly, bring the white sauce to the boil. Once the sauce is boiling reduce the heat to low and let simmer gently without stirring for 4 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in 180g of cheese. Set aside.

• Warm up a large frying pan with the olive oil and add in the preserved lemon, garlic and saffron and fry for about a minute. Add in the shrimps and cook until they turn pink, about 5 minutes. Immediately stir the shrimp mixture into the white sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and set aside.

• Cook your macaroni al dente according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Drain the pasta and add it to the shrimp and white sauce mixture. Transfer the mac and cheese mixture to an oven proof dish (or 6 small oven proof dishes) and heat your oven's grill to its highest setting.

• In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle over the mac and cheese and place the dish under the preheated grill for 1 or 2 minutes (depending on the intensity of your grill) until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbling. Serve immediately.

Notes

• If you prepare your mac and cheese in advance, keep it in the fridge and warm it up in the oven at 180 C (350 F) for 20 minutes before placing it under the grill for 1 minute.

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