This macaroni and cheese recipe is special, and not just because there's caramelized onion and slow-roasted butternut squash in here. It's baked in cute little paper cups, so everybody gets a corner piece. Think of it as epicurean egalitarianism. Satiating socialism. Progressive pastries. I'm going where no recipe developer has gone before; I'm messing with mac n cheese. Like a lot.
If you're a traditionalist when it comes to mac and cheese, I don't advise you look any further. This is a judgement-free zone, and I need you to understand there are going to be vegetables in this mac and cheese.
Butternut squash being the magical winter squash that it is, adds a very delicate sweetness to this mac and cheese, and makes it oh-so-thick. Caramelized onions have become a staple in my macaroni and cheese, because its like automatically indulgent that way. And for the sage and butter breadcrumbs? These are new to me, but I wanted something pretty and aromatic, because after all, I'm a high-key super-extra Taurus and I was bringing these to a party.
You need about 2 hours to take this recipe from start to finish. It will make 36 macaroni and cheese cups!
- 1 whole butternut squash
- 1 16-oz box elbow macaroni
- 1 finely diced medium sweet onion
- 1 1/2 c stick of butter
- 1 c panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 c chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1/4 c flour
- 1/2 c half and half
- 2 c mozzarella cheese (part-skim)
- 2 c white cheddar
- 1/2 c parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp djion mustard
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Peel and dice the squash into 1-inch chunks and roast for 45 minutes on a greased sheet pan.
- While the squash is roasting, begin caramelizing the diced onion on medium-low, adding water to the pan if the onions stick (this process can take up to 45 minutes)
- In a small saute pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter. Stir in the panko crumbs, the chopped sage leaves, and garlic together until they become golden brown and toasty. Set aside.
- In a large stock pot, bring 3-4 quarts of water to a boil with the salt. Boil the macaroni noodles for 5-7 minutes, drain, set aside. You want them al-dente! Do not overcook them!
- When the squash is done roasting and the onions are done caramelizing, puree them with an immersion blender in a bowl or with a hand mixer.
- In a large sauce pan, melt the remaining 6 tbsp of butter on high.
- Whisk in the flour until you get a thick mixture, then pour in the half and half. Let it boil for a minute until you have a thick sauce then turn the heat down to simmer.
- Stir in the cheeses, mustard, white pepper, and squash and onion puree. Turn off the heat.
- Combine the cheese mixture with the noodles and pour into the paper cups. Top with bread crumb mixture. Bake on 425 for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy them immediately!
PS: You can put any mac and cheese recipe in tiny paper cups, not just this one!