Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

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After a day spent cleaning the yard and the house this was just what my husband and I needed. We ate this cheesy, comfort food by the warmth of our fireplace. It was comfort food on a fall evening. You can substitute gluten-free pasta, but I don’t recommend it – the pasta can get too mushy. Stick to regular Prince pasta and you can’t go wrong.

Ingredients for crumb crust:

  • 1 sleeve of low-fat butter crackers (Nabisco, they’re crispier)
  • 3T unsalted butter (Kerrygold), cut into 6 pieces
  • 1t sea salt

Ingredients for cheese sauce and pasta:

  • 1# elbow macaroni (I like the good old standby Prince brand)
  • 5T unsalted butter (Kerrygold)
  • 5T flour
  • 3T dry mustard powder
  • 1t sea salt
  • 1t white pepper
  • ½t cayenne pepper (or more)
  • 5C whole milk
  • 8oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (I like Cabot)
  • 8oz. cheddar cheese, shredded (Kerrygold or Cabot extra sharp)
  • ½ of an organic butternut squash, cubed, about 3-4cups

Directions for crumb topping: Put the crackers in a baggy and using a meat tenderizer mallet, crush the crackers into crumbs. Melt the butter and set aside. In a small bowl, add the cracker crumbs and melted butter. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Directions for the cheese sauce and pasta: Preheat oven to 400°.

Steam the cubed butternut squash for 3-5 minutes until barely tender. It will continue to cook in the oven so don’t overcook it.

Boil the pasta just shy of al denté. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the flour, dry mustard, and cayenne. Whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about one minute. Gradually which in milk; bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Turn heat off and whisk in the cheeses until melted. Add the cooked pasta and butternut squash. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Pour into a 3-quart casserole dish. Top with the crumbs. Bake on the top rack for 15 minutes until the topping is browned. Garnish with fresh parsley sprinkled on top.

 

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