Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
Cold weather calls for maximum comfort, and our Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese is one of the coziest dishes out there. Two of our meltiest cheeses, New York State Yellow Cheddar and mozzarella, get a boost of balanced sweetness from roasted butternut squash (in the form of puree and bite-size pieces). The autumnal flavors are bolstered by toasty brown butter and sage, in both the puree and the breadcrumb topping. Radiatore noodles grab onto every bit of tasty sauce, making every bite deliciously rich and robust. This gives even classic mac a run for its money.
preparation & ingredients
Preheat oven to 425 F. In the meantime, make the mornay: Add the milk, halved onion, garlic bulb, thyme, and bay leaves to a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching. In another saucepan over medium heat, add the 4 tablespoons of butter and allow to melt fully; whisk in the flour and continue cooking, stirring with a rubber spatula until the mixture begins to look dry and crumbly. Strain the aromatics from the pot of milk, and gradually whisk the warm milk into the cooked flour and butter mixture. The milk should begin to thicken immediately, but if it doesn't, continue cooking and whisking until thick. Stir in 4 ounces of each cheese. Set aside.
Cut the cleaned and quartered squash into ½-inch slices horizontally; add to a mixing bowl, and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Spread evenly on two baking sheets, and bake for 12 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.
Meanwhile, add additional olive oil to a large pan over medium-low heat. When the oil's hot, add the sliced onions and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
When the squash is cooked, adjust the oven to 375 F. Add half the roasted butternut squash to the pan with the onions and garlic, and add enough water to cover. Cook over medium-high heat until the butternut squash is completely broken down and mushy and the water has been cooked out, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the remaining roasted squash into cubes; set aside. Cook 10 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium until beginning to bubble then whisk and continue cooking until it begins to turn golden brown, then remove from heat. Set aside 4 tablespoons of brown butter for the puree. To the remaining butter in the pot, add the sage, and cook on low for about 1-2 minutes, until the leaves start to look darker and speckled; then add the panko and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
When the squash has fully broken down, blend in batches in a blender with the 4 tablespoons of brown butter until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the mornay, cooked pasta, half of the remaining shredded cheeses, and diced squash, and mix thoroughly. Add to a 9x9 baking dish, and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbling around the edges and hot in the middle. Garnish with the sage breadcrumbs, and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.