6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 rib of celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
2 larges shallots, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup dry sherry, dry vermouth or white wine
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked through for shells
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons Old Bay, divided
For the base sauce:
2 cups heavy cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup grainy mustard
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1 pound short-cut pasta, cooked for 6 minutes in salted water and drained
For the topping:
2 cups coarse crushed oyster crackers
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Finely chopped chives and parsley, to garnish
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add celery, shallots, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté to tender, 5 minutes or so. Deglaze the pan with sherry, vermouth or wine. Remove from heat.
Season crabmeat with lemon juice, Tabasco and 1 tablespoon Old Bay.
Make the base sauce for the mac: Bring cream, garlic clove and mustard to a low boil and simmer 5 minutes to thicken. Remove garlic clove and add in cheese; stir to melt.
For the topping, combine cracker crumbs, remaining tablespoon Old Bay and Parm in a bowl. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter then pour over crumbs; stir to coat.
Combine pasta, sauce, shallot mixture and crab then pour everything into a casserole dish. Top with cracker crumb mixture and bake until brown and bubbly. Garnish with chives and parsley to serve.