It never gets old — but updating can’t hurt
This savoury mac ’n’ cheese with subtle pumpkin notes and a golden orange colour is the perfect warm and welcoming autumn dish.
It makes a great meal when served with a simple coleslaw and perhaps some warm rolls on the side.
The recipe is adapted from one that appeared on Jonathan Melendez’s The Candid Appetite blog, and was perfected by using both the quantities and the method featured in Johanna Burkhard’s Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese recipe.
Pumpkin Mac ’n’ Cheese
Makes: 4 to 6 servings Preparation time: about 1 hour
3 cups (750 mL) uncooked penne or elbow macaroni 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
3 tbsp (45 mL) all-purpose flour 4 cups (1 L) whole milk
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 mL) salt 1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp (2.5 mL) paprika
½ tsp (2.5 mL) garlic powder
½ tsp (2.5 mL) onion powder
½ tsp (2.5 mL) dried thyme
Dash cayenne pepper, to taste
¾ cup (180 mL) pumpkin purée ¼ cup (60 mL) grated fontina cheese ½ cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan cheese 2 cups (500 mL) grated cheddar cheese, preferably aged
6 tbsp (90 mL) butter 4 tbsp (60 mL) fresh sage, thinly sliced 2/3 cup (160 mL) plain breadcrumbs 2/3 cup (160 mL) panko breadcrumbs
1. Butter 4-6 individual ramekin dishes (depending on size) or one 10-cup (2.3 L) ovenproof casserole dish. Place dishes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Prepare all three cheeses. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
2. Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil. Season with salt (to taste) and add the pasta. Stir often and cook 2 minutes less than suggested cooking time. Drain and set aside.
3. To make pumpkin cheese sauce: Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter and melt. Whisk in the flour; cook for a few minutes until the mixture smells nutty.
4. Gradually add the milk, whisking in each addition until smooth. Bring to a boil and allow sauce to thicken. Whisk in the Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and cayenne to taste. Whisk in the pumpkin purée.
5. Remove pot from heat and stir in the cheddar (reserving a bit), Parmesan (reserving a bit) and fontina cheeses. Stir until the cheeses melt. Add the cooked pasta and stir gently to combine.
6. Pour into the baking dish or portion out into the individual ramekins. Top with reserved cheddar and Parmesan.
7. To make sage breadcrumb topping: In a small pot over low heat, melt butter, 6 tbsp (90 mL). Add the fresh sage and cook until sage starts to get a bit crispy and butter is fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and the sage butter. Sprinkle buttered crumbs evenly over mac ’n’ cheese.
8. Bake on the centre rack of preheated oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.
Pumpkin Mac ’n’ Cheese puts a fall twist on a classic.