Monday, November 18, 2013

Amy's Butternut Squash, Gruyere, and Brown Butter Mac & Cheese

This trip to the beach Amy served some delicious Mac & Cheese that was delicious. For those of you interested here is her recipe:

Butternut squash, gruyere and brown butter mac & cheese serves 6

1 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 oz mini farfalle pasta (or use small elbow macaroni) (Amy used quinoa pasta)
5 tbsp salted butter
2 c. coarse, fresh bread crumbs (preferably homemade)
4 oz Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 2 cups)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves, plus 12 whole leaves
1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut in 1/2" chunks
1-1/2 c. whole or reduced-fat milk
1-1/2 c. heavy cream
12 oz. Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (about 4 c.)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8" baking dish or pan. Set aside.

Fill a 4 - 5 qt. pot about the 3 quarters full with water and add 1 tbsp of the salt. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. Cook stirring once or twice, until tender but firm 4 to 6 min. and drain. Reserve the pot.

In medium skillet, melt 3 tbsp of the butter. Turn off the heat and add the bread crumbs and 1 c. of the pecorino. Stir to combine. Transfer to a small bowl and wipe out but do no wash the skillet.

Line a small plate with paper towels. Using the same skillet melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter over med. heat and cook just until its starting to brown. Add the whole sage leaves and cook until the leaves are crisp and just beginning to darken, about 45 sec. Remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, transfer the leaves to the paper towel-lined plate and reserve both the leaves and the butter.

Using the same pot you used to cook the pasta, combine the squash, milk, cream, and the remaining 1/2 tsp salt and the reserved sage butter. Cover and cook over med-low heat, stirring occasionally and watching to make sure the cream mixture does not boil. Simmer squash until it is very soft 20 - 30 min. Cool slightly. Place about half of the mixture in a blender or food processor and puree. Put the puree back into the post and repeat with the remaining squash. Add the Gruyere, the remaining pecorino, the chopped sage, and the cayenne to the pureed squash mixture and stir until the cheese has melted (the heat of the squash mixture should melt it) Add the pasta and stir to combine.

Pour into the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture and place the fried sage leaves in a decorative pattern on top. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until the mixture is brown and bubbly. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Add ins:
 Pancetta: Cut a 4 oz piece of pancetta into a 1" long and 1/4 inch wide "sticks" or batons. Place in med. skillet over med-high heat, and cook until the edges are browned and the pancetta is crisp. Using a slotted spoon add to the cheese sauce along with the pasta.