Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Best Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

The bestest and cheesiest Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with crispy sage leaves. Thick and rich, this dish is a sure fire foodgasm!

Sometimes you have a great idea for a recipe, try it out and know it can be MUCH MUCH better. So you try, try and try again! This recipe is one of those cases I tried it many ways and FINALLY perfected it!

First- I made pasta, added in the milk, butter, pumpkin and cheese. Too cheesey and the cheese I used was too stringy and not melty enough. It was clumpy, boo not pretty!

Second- I made the pasta in milk, boiled it in the milk. I read that this makes the creamiest mac and cheese. Added cheese, butter and pumpkin once the pasta was cooked through and the milk had condensed. Topped it with MORE cheese baked it and added brown butter fried sage leaves atop. Delicous yes, but not creamy enough and kinda became solid. Booooo!

Third- The third time's the charm! I decided to make a bechamel sauce! That's the ticket. But not just any bechamel I browned the butter a but and added in some small sage leaves. After it thickened nicely I added pumpkin puree and a blend of two of the creamiest/ meltiest cheeses: Gruyere and Fontina! To add some saltiness I added some Asiago. Lastly to finish the sauce I added some freshly ground pepper and just the smallest pinch of pumpkin spice! PERFECTION! Absolute perfection!

Not a healthy one... file this under Fatty Fat Pants.

This post is part of 12 weeks of Winter squash started by Girlichef. I am soooo honored to be taking part in this with such talented bloggers!

If you haven't checked out Girlichef you should- her recipes are all amazing and there are soooo sooo many to choose from!

Thank you Heather for inviting me to take part!

Be sure to scroll to the bottom to see MORE amazing squash recipes!

What you need

1 pound of pasta (I used Trader Joe's Orechette)
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons small sage leaves (or chopped sage)plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup lowfat milk (plus an extra splash for the end)
1/2 cup Pumpkin Puree
1/2 cup Fontina
1/2 cup Gruyere
1/4 cup Asiago
Tiny Pinch of pumpkin spice
Salt and Pepper to taste 
1/2 cup shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese mix

How to make it

1- Preheat oven to 415ยบ
2- Boil water in a large pot with salted water
3- Once water is boiling rapidly add in the pasta and cook as directed.
4- In a cast iron skillet (mine is about 12" wide) add in your butter and cook on medium.
5- when butter is melted ass in your small or chopped sage leaves. Let them brown a bit in the butter.
6- Once sage leaves are browned add in your flour and combine really well with the butter.
7- Once combined start adding in your milk slowly.
NOTE: when making a bechamel it is highly recomended that you heat the milk first, I forgot to and it seemed to work fine, I am guessing since the skillet retains so much heat.
8- Whisk in the milk and keep stirring until thickened.
9- Add in your pumpkin, fontina and gruyere, if desired you can add a little extra milk maybe 1/4-1/3 a cup depending on the desired consistancy you would like.
10- Add salt and pepper, I like a goodly amount of pepper in my mac and cheese. Also add in the tiniest punch of pumpkin spice, just for effect.
NOTE: I also added a little extra milk before topping with extra cheese to make sure when it baked it stayed nice and creamy. 
11- Add cooked pasta to the skillet, cover with remaining Swiss and Gruyere Mix.
OPTIONAL add large sage leave to top for ganish and brush with olive oil.
12- Bake in oven for about 15 minutes

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