Chef Nick Liberato's Blue Crab Mac & Cheese

Chef Nick Liberato, executive chef at the Venice Whaler in Venice, CA, and a team of talented chefs made this dish live on the 2018 Nightclub & Bar Show Expo Floor at our incredible food-focused Food & Beverage Innovation Center. This decadent bar food recipe yields 4 mind-blowing servings.

Chef Nick Liberato's Blue Crab Mac & Cheese at the 2018 Nightclub & Bar Show

Blue Crab Mac & Cheese

  • 3 pounds Orecchiette pasta
  • 1 pound fine shredded Jack/Cheddar blend
  • 1/2 pound Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed Red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch Flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 gallon Whole milk
  • 2 cloves peeled Garlic
  • 1 pound All-purpose flour
  • 1 pound Unsalted butter
  • 1 pound Canned crab
  • 1 bunch fresh Basil
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 pound grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Olive oil
  • White pepper, to taste
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • Cheese cloth


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook Orecchiette 2 minutes less than al dente.
  3. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  4. While pasta is cooking, melt butter over medium in a large saucepan. Transfer 2 tablespoons melted butter to a medium bowl, and reserve.
  5. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook until softened, 3–5 minutes.
  6. Add flour; cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  7. Add milk; whisk until smooth.
  8. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until sauce has thickened, 2–3 minutes.
  9. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Remove pan from heat.
  10. Fold in seafood, macaroni, and cheese; transfer to a shallow 4-quart baking dish.
  11. To bowl with reserved melted butter, add bread crumbs toss and scatter over Orecchiette mixture.
  12. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until topping is golden, and sauce is bubbling, 15–20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

For the Pecorino Béchamel:

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You just want it to be warm, around 110°.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. With a wooden
  3. spoon, create a roux by stirring the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time until it is fully incorporated into the butter. Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour. The roux should be moderately warm when complete.
  4. Using a wire whisk, slowly add the warm milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it's free of lumps.
  5. Attach the bay leaf to the onion using the cloves and add them to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about 20%, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn't scorch at the bottom of the pan. The resulting sauce should be smooth and velvety. If it's too thick, whisk in a bit more milk until it's just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  6. Remove the sauce from the heat. You can retrieve the clove-stuck onion and discard it now.
  7. Carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer. For an extra smooth consistency, line the strainer with a piece of cheesecloth.
  8. Season the sauce very lightly with salt and white pepper. Be careful with the white pepper and the nutmeg. A little bit goes a long way! Keep the béchamel covered until you're ready to use it.