Secret Butternut Mac & Cheese

This meal came about as the intersection of two lines of thought. We wanted to try out the old fashioned (original) macaroni and cheese recipe, as featured on the Netflix series High on the Hog (recommended, by the way!). And, I’d been wanting to try adding butternut squash to macaroni and cheese ever since we ended up with way too many (is there such a thing) squash last fall. Earlier this week we finally got around to trying a mix of the two…we cooked the macaroni in equal parts milk and water (4 cups and 4 cups), then used the leftover cooking liquid (about a litre) to make the sauce with a roux: melted 5 Tbsp (75g) butter and softened some diced garlic and onions in it; added 1/4 cup (34g) flour and cooked it for about a minute, seasoned with salt and paprika; slowly added the reserved cooking liquid (we were able to use all the liquid from cooking the pasta, so the water and milk didn’t have to go to waste) and brought everything to a boil; added about 2 cups (300g) cubed butternut squash and let simmer for about 45 minutes. After that we added some cheese (shredded, mixed cheddar, about 1 cup) and stirred to combine with the macaroni. We added hot dogs (obviously), divided it into 3 baking dishes (good portions for 2 people), and topped with breadcrumbs and extra cheese before baking (and freezing for later).

The review: by the time the macaroni was coated in sauce, the milk treatment wasn’t really noticeable…we’re not ruling it out though – we think it’s worth a try while staying true to the rest of the original method (simply layering with shredded cheese and baking) next time. The butternut was very well disguised in the sauce, with just a faint flavour and no impact on the overall texture. Pro or con? You decide! It’s a good way to disguise extra veggies in dinner for those picky eaters, but we were a little disappointed. Next time, we’d like to try the same approach but omit the roux for an even healthier (and squash-ier) version.

  • 1 box elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups milk
  • 5 T butter (75g)
  • 1/4 cup flour (34g)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups butternut squash (300g)
  • 1 cup cheese (80g), extra for topping
  • breadcrumbs for topping

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