Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Best (Pumpkin) Macaroni and Cheese in the World!

I've heard anticipation makes things even better. In this case, I'm not sure it can get any better, it's just that good. But I made you wait for it anyway - just in case. This was the highlight of my 6-recipe Labor Day weekend. I've never really been into savory pumpkin dishes before, but all of a sudden this year I was curious about this more mature side of pumpkin. Pumpkin penne, pumpkin macaroni and cheese, etc. I already had a few recipes already pinned to my Fall pinterest board, but when I saw this particular recipe, I knew I had to make it ASAP. I literally could not get it out of my mind.

The recipe for this Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon comes from Lauren's Latest. You should know that before I pin any recipe, I read through the ingredients, instructions, and comments. Of couse I drool over the pictures too! I check all these things out to see if it's really worth me making/pinning. I look at a lot of recipes and a good amount don't make the cut during this rigorous review process. A few things about this recipe stood out to me as awesome when I was doing my initial read-through. It's a 1 pot meal which means fewer dishes! It had a good ratio of pumpkin to cheese. Um, it has bacon; need I say more? It's topped with potato chips and I'm a sucker for good texture. It looked easy and quick to make. And Lauren's pictures made it look SOOO super cheesy. Speaking of pictures, please do check out Lauren's page, as she has some amazing pictures of this recipe that can only be described as "food porn." My Iphone pictures leave something to be desired, but I can assure that the recipe itself does not.

I made a few changes to Lauren's recipe, which are reflected in my version below. This was some of the best macaroni and cheese I have ever made or had the please to eat anywhere. It has a nice subtle pumpkin flavor. It's incredibly rich and creamy, but the flavor profile is relatively simple so it's not overwhelming. And that's good because you'll want to eat tons of it. This is comfort food at its best and would be great on a cool Fall evening. Even my husband loved it, which is saying a lot since he declared before I made it that he wouldn't even try it. It's super cheesy, which to me is obviously a good thing. I will warn any of you who, like my Dad, prefer a "dry" macaroni and cheese that this may not be for you. I'll definitely make this again for Fall, but I'll also keep it in the lineup all year long. It's that good! I've unofficially declared it the best macaroni and cheese in the world!

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon
Recipe adapted from Lauren’s Latest
Makes 6 servings
1 lb. Cellantani (sometimes referred to as Cavatappi) pasta
8 slices bacon
1 cup chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 cup pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon thyme
pinch nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
1- 15 oz. jar Classico Light Creamy Alfredo Sauce
3/4 cup 2% milk
6 oz (1 1/2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Lays Kettle Cooked Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper potato chips, for garnish
Bring large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside. Place the pot back on heat and cook bacon until crispy. When cooked, remove bacon and set on paper towels to drain. In the bacon grease, sauté onions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in pumpkin, spices and alfredo sauce. Pour milk into dirty alfredo sauce jar, replace lid, shake and pour into pot. Stir until combined. Sprinkle in cheeses and stir slowly to melt. Stir in cooked pasta. Crumble the cooled and drained bacon. Add to pasta and cheese mixture and stir to distribute evenly. Immediately before serving, top each portion with a generous amount of crushed potato chips.
 A few don'ts:
  • Don't use turkey bacon. You need the grease (and the flavor) from the regular bacon.
  • Don't insult this amazing dish by using regular potato chips. Kettle cooked chips work well because of the hearty cruch, and the cracked pepper really compliments the the other flavors. I've tried other brands, and Lays really does have the best for this particular type of chip.
  • Seriously, use the cellantani/cavatappi pasta. I am a big believer that the shape/type of pasta you use absolutely needs to match the overall vibe of the recipe. Certain shapes of pasta just go with certain types of recipes. This recipe was calling out for cellantani pasta. If you can't find the cellantani/cavatappi, I'd reccomend using gemelli as a good replacement.

1 comment:

  1. "don't insult the macaroni" - i'm saying this in a godfather accent in my head right now. love you!