The weather hasn’t cooled down in LA yet, but I’m ready for fall and some good fall comfort food. Let’s start with some extra-sharp white cheddar mac n’ cheese, shall we? I’m a huge fan of mac n’ cheese and have made many different variations using different types of cheese, but the classic cheddar is still my favorite. I’ve used extra-sharp white cheddar here, which goes so well with the acorn squash. You can use any type of squash you’d like, although you may need to adjust baking times. Next time I’ll try making this with kabocha squash, which is sweeter than acorn squash, and would be wonderful with the sharpness of the cheddar cheese. This recipe is going to be on rotation for the next few months!
- 8 acorn squash, or however many you plan to individually serve. You’ll have some left over and you can bake the left over mac n’ cheese in a smaller dish.
- 1 pound of macaroni
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 2 tablespoon of softened butter for topping
- 5 1/2 cups of whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
- 5 cups of extra sharp white cheddar, shredded
- vegetable oil or other neutral oil
- sea or kosher salt for salting pasta water and seasoning mac and cheese and squash
- freshly ground black pepper
- Panko bread crumbs
- Start by roasting the acorn squash. Preheat the oven to 375. With a sharp knife, slice just the tip of the acorn squash so it can stand upright. Then cut the top of the squash at the widest portion of the squash so you have a lid (save the lid). Scrape the inside seeds out with a spoon, scraping any extra squash if the flesh is particularly thick.
- Season the inside lightly with salt and pepper and rub the inside and outside of the squash and the lids in oil. Place the squash and the lids on a rimmed baking sheet and add a splash of water inside each squash and a big splash on the baking sheet itself. Roast for 25 minutes.
- To make the mac n’ cheese, heat the milk in a pot on medium heat until it just begins to bubble around the sides but don’t let it boil.
- Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Right when it starts to melt add the flour a little at a time, whisking the mixture until the flour becomes a paste and has soaked up all the butter.
- Pour the hot milk into the flour mixture a little at a time, whisking the whole time to break up the lumps of flour. Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes on medium low heat, whisking occassionally, until thick and smooth. Add the 5 cups of cheese, 1 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.
- Cook the macaroni in salted pasta water for about 4 minutes so that the pasta is little under al dente. Drain and run under cold water.
- Add the macaroni to the cheese.
- Stuff the squash with the mac n’ cheese and sprinkle a thin layer of breadcrumbs over the tops. Add little dabs of the softened butter on top of the squash.
- Place the stuffed squash back in the oven for another 10 minutes (but not the lids). The squash should be soft and tender and you should easily be able to pierce the flesh with the tip of a knife.
(images by HonestlyYUM)