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Butternut Squash Mac 'n' Cheese with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms

Originally aired

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 pounds macaroni with lines, such as elbows
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 10-ounce boxes frozen, cooked butternut squash, defrosted
  • 4 cups (8 ounces) sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, eyeball it
  • Black pepper
  • 2 cups heavy cream or half-n-half
  • Additional Ingredients for Adult Version:
  • 1 pound chicken sausage
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • A handful of parsley
PREPARATION

 

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water then add the pasta and cook to al dente.

 

While the pasta cooks, heat a medium-size, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, and butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the thyme and grate the onion directly into the pot with a hand-held grater or microplane. Cook the grated onion 1-2 minutes, then add flour and cook together 1-2 more minutes. Whisk in stock, then combine with butternut squash until warmed through and smooth. Stir in cream or half-and-half and bring sauce to a bubble. Stir in cheeses in a figure-8 motion and season the completed sauce with salt, nutmeg and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings.

 

Drain cooked pasta well and combine with sauce.

 

Preheat oven to 375F.

 

Cook sausage until brown. Once fully cooked, remove from pan and set aside. Place pan over high heat and drizzle in a few tablespoons of EVOO. Add in mushrooms and brown. Once brown, deglaze pan with white wine. Cook until wine has evaporated. Add cooked sausage and mushrooms to the rest of the butternut mac and cheese. Place into a large baking dish.

 

In a small bowl, toss together panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the top of the mac.

 

Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes.

 

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