Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kabocha Squash Mac n Cheese

For an eclectic Thanksgiving meal, I wanted to do something a little bit different than my usual macaroni and cheese. This recipe won't displace that classic, but it's also a bit healthier than the other one. He gives you the option of topping with crushed pork rinds (which I'm sure would be amazing) or adding more traditional breadcrumbs instead. I went with panko for a bit of crunch, but not quite as much salty, porky goodness.

One year ago: Yogurt Curry with Cumin and Curry Leaves
Two years ago: Southeast Asian Squash Curry
Three years ago: Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese
Four years ago: Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

Kabocha Squash Mac n Cheese (from Smoke & Pickles)
1 small kabocha squash (~1.5 lbs)
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
12 ounces elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup chicken stock
3 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
3 ounces Colby, grated
3 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
5 tbsp crushed pork rinds (or breadcrumbs)
2 tsp black sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 4" deep 9"x12" baking dish.
2. Peel and halve squash (or you can save peeling until it's cooked). Scrape out seeds and cut into 1" cubes. Place on backing sheet, toss with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes or until fork-tender.
3. Meanwhile, cook macaroni until al dente. Drain, cool under running water, and set aside.
4. Transfer cooked squash to blender, add milk, chicken stock, cheeses, and butter. Blend until smooth.
5. Add 2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp pepper, and nutmeg and pulse to mix. Mix together macaroni and sauce (you can do this in your pan if it's large enough to mix well or in another bowl and then transfer to dish.
6. Sprinkle with pork rinds/breadcrumbs and sesame seeds. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.
7. Remove foil and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 25 - 30 minutes.

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