WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Kristy Bernardo of TheWickedNoodle.com stopped by to show us how to make a traditional Thanksgiving side dish with a twist.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Buttery Bacon Breadcrumbs
10-12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup plus 1 T butter, divided (1 stick)
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 cup chopped sweet yellow onion
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup flour
2 cups shredded cheddar, jack or a mexican blend
2 cups shredded swiss or gruyere
1 pound small pasta (I like mini penne but macaroni also works well)
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Place panko breadcrumbs and cooked and crumbled bacon into a food processor; blend until it is all roughly the same size. Melt 1/4 cup butter and, with the motor running, drizzle into bread crumb mixture and process until incorporated. Set aside. (Note: this step is optional. The texture of the breadcrumbs is recommended, however, but you could omit just the bacon or the entire mixture altogether if you desire).
- Melt 1 T butter in skillet and add chopped onions and butternut squash. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until onions and squash is very tender and beginning to brown. Using a meat mallet (or other utensil), mash squash thoroughly. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Set aside until sauce and squash mixture is done (you can drizzle a little olive oil on it to keep it from sticking).
- Melt remaining butter in large saucepan; add flour. Stir to form a roux and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes or until flour smells nutty and is lightly brown. Whisk in milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Add cheese, a cup at a time, and continue stirring until cheese is completely melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Grease a 13x9 baking dish (I have used an 11x7 with no problems). Add cooked pasta and butternut squash/onion mixture to sauce; mix thoroughly. Pour into baking dish and sprinkle bacon breadcrumbs over the top.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it is hot and bubbling at the edges. Enjoy!