My homegirl, Rachel Ray, is the queen of cuisine. She proved it to be me the other day with a little gift from Heaven that she likes to call Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. It’s a mixture of both my favorite meal and favorite season. To put it into perspective, if PSL was in the form of a pasta dish, this would be it. Intrigued? Well, here is a little how-to on cultivating this culinary masterpiece, with my own touches of course.
1 lb. penne pasta
1 tbs. EVOO
2 tbs. butter
½ medium onion
2 tbs. chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish if you want to be fancy
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 10 oz. box frozen cooked butternut squash, defrosted
1 cup half-and-half
1 big bag (around 8 oz.) of shredded Cheddar cheese, or more if you like it rich
½ cup parmesan cheese, plus some extra to sprinkle on top
A few dashes of nutmeg (If you don’t already have this in your kitchen, then spare yourself from buying the outrageously priced tiny bottle. It doesn’t add much to the dish anyway.)
In a pot of boiling water, dash in some salt and throw in the whole box of pasta. Stir intermittently and make sure it doesn’t boil over. When you think it’s almost done, set one noodle aside to cool so you can evaluate the texture without burning your mouth off. You need those taste buds for later!
While those yummy carbohydrates are cooking away, heat up a pot on a medium setting (4 or 5 on the stove dial) and add in the EVOO and butter. For this part, I used a crock pot on high heat because I only have one real pot. (Ah, the joys of living in your first real apartment.) Luckily, my crock pot ended up being detachable from the heat source, so later on I switched to the stovetop. Thank God for technology.
When the butter and oil are all nice and melty, add your chopped thyme and grate the onion directly into the pot. If you don’t have a cheese grater, have no fear! You can just chop the onion up and put it into the pot, and it will still turn out well. However, chopping onions comes with its own problems. If you don’t want to end up clenching your burning, watery eyes shut while aimlessly hacking away at onion pieces, I suggest you splurge on the 5 dollar grater. Your tear ducts will thank me later.
Once you’ve cooked the onion and thyme for a few minutes, go ahead and add in the flour and cook for a few more minutes. Next, stir or whisk in the chicken stock and toss in the squash. If you’re using squash cut into small pieces, you’ll need to squish them a little with a wooden spoon and stir everything together until it’s all smooth. Then, add the half-and-half while stirring and bring the beginnings of your tasty sauce to a slow boil. (AKA turn up the heat to about 7 and wait until just a few bubbles start coming up).
Finally, (the part we’ve all been waiting for) you can add in your cheeses. Stir until the cheese is all melted and evenly dispersed, and add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. While all of this is going on, make sure you haven’t forgotten about the pasta! You can drain the noodles and add them right into the pot with your new favorite autumn-inspired cheese sauce.
Serve with a large glass of white wine and your newest Netflix craze. Bon appétit!
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 5 servings with some leftovers for midnight snacking
You can find the original recipe here..