Instead of writing about my love of mac and cheese, a love that no words can sufficiently capture, I have prepared a photo essay about said love. Let’s begin:
A postcard from my dear friend Monica, sent while I was studying for the California bar exam:
A print in my kitchen (see here for more!):
And the latest addition to my cookbook collection. I’m not sure why I haven’t been to Homeroom yet, but this needs to change.
I was initially skeptical about this pumpkin mac and cheese because I generally like my mac and cheese classic and straightforward. For instance, truffle mac and cheese is borderline blasphemy, at least to me. It was actually a while ago that I first encountered a pumpkin mac and cheese recipe, but I didn’t take any action until I saw this pretty pumpkin tortelloni feature on the new flour + water cookbook, which made me figure that pumpkin would not be that weird in mac and cheese. Not only was it not weird, it was delicious! Although this pumpkin mac and cheese is not nearly as beautiful or impressive as the tortelloni, it's still a cozy and unexpected (in a good way) pasta dish for fall.
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Adapted slightly from Rachael Ray
8 ounces macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup pumpkin ale *
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup canned puréed pumpkin
2 1/4 cups shredded milled yellow cheddar cheese, divided
* I used, and am partial to, Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it and cook the pasta to a little under al dente according to instructions on package. Drain and reserve.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a medium size sauce pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, cook for 1 minute, then raise the heat a bit and add the pumpkin ale. Reduce until almost evaporated, then whisk in the honey and milk. Season with cloves, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Thicken to coat a spoon, a couple of minutes, then taste to adjust the seasonings.
Whisk in the pumpkin puree, then stir in about 1 1/2 cups grated cheese until melted. Combine the pasta with the sauce and pour into a two-quart oven proof baking dish, or a 9-inch-by-9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese (and some panko breadcrumbs, if you like).
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.