Cinébistro’s Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

Cinébistro’s Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese is all about the texture: creamy cheese sauce, silky shrimp, crunchy breadcrumbs, crispy bacon and the snap of a Parmesan crisp.

Jason Bianco, executive chef at the high-end dinner-and-a-movie establishment, has been making the signature comfort dish since he joined the entertainment company a year and a half ago — first at the Tampa, Fla., location and now at Cary’s Waverly Place.

“It’s mac-and-cheese delicious,” said Bianco. “If your mom and dad made Kraft macaroni and cheese for you, it evokes comforting childhood memories.”

But don’t look for this mac on the kids’ menu.

“You might find finger food at other movie theaters,” Bianco said. “But this dish is more of a dining experience.”

While there is no substitute for a posh dinner and a movie, it’s nice to curl up on the sofa with Netflix and a big bowl of cheesy goodness, too. So the Cinébistro staff agreed to share their recipe.

“This is a large, rich and decadent pasta dish,” said Isaac Stewart, Cinébistro corporate executive chef. “You certainly can cut the portion size down, or increase the amount of portions served, but it is hard to beat a generous mix of bacon, shrimp and great cheese.”

Shrimp Mac and Cheese
Serves 4

    1 pound dry pasta (cavatappi, gemelli, radiatori or other shaped pasta)
    ½ pound bacon, chopped (about 8 slices)
    1 pound shrimp, 16/20 size, peeled and deveined, tail on
    2 cups Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce, recipe below
    2 cups mixed white cheeses (grate equal parts Gruyère, fontina and white cheddar)
    Pasta water, if needed to thin the sauce
    ½ cup Crisp Breadcrumbs, recipe below
    Parmesan Crisps, recipe below
    Chopped Italian parsley and chives

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente. Strain, reserving some of the pasta water. Set aside.

Add the bacon to a large sauté pan or saucepan. Cook over medium heat to render the fat and crisp the bacon. When nearly cooked, add the shrimp and cook with the bacon.

Add the Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce and reserved pasta. Bring to a boil. Stir the mixed cheeses into the sauce and melt completely. Thin with some of the pasta cooking water, if needed.

Separate into four large serving bowls. Top each serving with two tablespoons of Crisp Breadcrumbs and freshly chopped chives and parsley. Garnish with a Parmesan Crisp.

Parmesan Crisps
Yield: About 12

    1½ cups Parmesan cheese, grated
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Mix cheese and flour. On a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat, flatten two-tablespoon piles of the mix into flat disks. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce
Yield: 3 cups

    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    ½ medium onion, chopped
    1 shallot, chopped
    1 rib celery, chopped
    Parsley stems, optional
    ½ cup roasted garlic cloves (Roast in the oven at 400 degrees F wrapped in foil with a little  
        oil, or cover in oil on the stovetop and heat until golden and soft. Strain and use the oil for
        something else!)
    1 bay leaf
    ¼ cup white wine
    2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
    Cornstarch slurry (dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons cold water)
    2 cups heavy cream
    ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

In a medium pan, sweat onions, shallot and celery in the oil until translucent.

Add the parsley stems, roasted garlic and bay leaf. Add the wine. Cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated.  

Add chicken stock, and bring to a boil. To thicken, stir in the cornstarch slurry.

Add the heavy cream and reduce by one-fourth. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Blend well with a handheld stick blender, and strain through a fine-mesh strainer.            

Crisp Breadcrumbs
Yield: 1 cup

    Bread; a rustic-textured loaf works best
    2 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or garlic oil from Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce recipe
    Salt and pepper

Tear the bread into small pieces. You can also pulse the bread in a food processor.
Measure out about 1 cup of chunky breadcrumbs.

Toss the breadcrumbs lightly with oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Sauté until crisp and golden, or spread crumbs on cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes.

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