Pumpkin Macaroni 'n Cheese
I amazing me, that you can put just about any ingredient in Macaroni and Cheese and it makes a great dish (ok maybe mackerel wouldn’t be too good). And while the traditional version is quite awesome, I love to “mix it up” with new ingredients. I especially like it when I can match those new ingredients to a season or time of year. That’s the case in this recipe video, where I show you how to make a Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese. It’s perfect for the Fall season, and mac ‘n cheese is fairly common on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Why not try a pumpkin version? If you’ll like, you can keep it 100% homemade and buy, roast and puree some pumpkin yourself, but frankly I find it easier to buy the pumpkin at the store. Hope you enjoy it this recipe as much as I do.
Recipe Overview and Keys to Success
To make a perfect pumpkin mac and cheese, just make sure to watch a few things:
- The macaroni pasta needs to be boiled to just before al dente. Remember we are going to cook the mac ‘n cheese off in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, and the pasta will continue to cook. It you boil it to where it’s fully cooked, it will get soft and mushy in the oven.
- The sauce will thicken more than you might think from the starch, and the time in the oven. So make it pretty soupy before putting it into the oven. You can always add a bit more milk or even water to the thin it out.
- Let the mac ‘n cheese get a nice crust on top in the oven. If that crust hasn’t developed after about 15 minutes, turn the broiler on for about 5. That will crisp up the top, which provides a great texture contrast with the rest of the macaroni.
Ingredients for Mac and Cheese
- 3 – 4 tablespoons of flour
- 3 – 4 tablespoons of butter
- 3 – 4 cups of milk or cream
- Cheddar cheese – 1.5 cups grated
- Fontina cheese – 3/4 of a cup grated
- Quarter pound macaroni noodles
- 1/4cup Breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup of pureed pumpkin
Making the Macaroni and Cheese
- As you make the béchamel, cook off your elbow macaroni until it us just before al dente. Drain when cooked
- Melt the butter in a sauce pan
- Once melted, add the butter, and combine to form a roux
- Cook the roux over medium-low heat stirring every minute, for 7 - 9 minutes to cook out the raw flavor and texture of the flour
- Slowly add the cream, stirring as you go, to make the béchamel sauce
- The sauce will immediately be very thick, but thin as you add more cream
- Bring the sauce to a light boil, which will show you how thick it will get
- Add the cheese (reserve about 1/4 cup of the cheddar) and pumpkin puree, stir to melt it into the béchamel
- Add the drained macaroni, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper
- See how thick/thin the sauce is. It should be much thinner than a finished mac ‘n cheese; if needed add more milk or cream to thin it out to the right consistency
- Pour the mixture into a casserole dish, that you’ve lightly greased with olive oil
- Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs and the reserved cheddar cheese
- Move to a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes – you can put the broiler on at the end to ensure a crispy top
- Once cooked, allow it to cool for about 5 minutes and serve
Wine Recommendation: Because of the rich creamy sauce, I think this pumpkin mac ‘n cheese can easily stand up to a medium bodied red wine, and I’ve had success pairing pumpkin with Italian varietals. Try an inexpensive Barbera or Nebbiolo.