Warning: Not figure friendly. You might want to hit the gym after one bite of this sinful creation.
So, who doesn't love a good mac n cheese recipe? Especially one that incorporates a whole butternut squash and tons of cheese? Ya, I thought you would all looove it. Over halloween weekend we decided to do a "Mac and Cheese Night" for a little party with friends. Well, what was more perfect than a super orange version?? So cheesy and the squash give an extra layer of flavor that you might not expect! GIve it a try!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil (makes life so much easier). Place the halved butternut squash on the baking sheet and coat in olive oil. Roast in oven for 40 minutes. Remove and let cool. Scoop out the orange squash and puree in a food processor until smooth (about 1-2 minutes). Remove to a small bowl and whisk in 3 tbsp half and half and some salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large (your largest) saute pan with high sides, heat 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and pancetta and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 3 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add thyme, crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Cook for 3 more minutes.
Add flour to the mixture and stir to form a thick onion, garlic paste. Let cook for about 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup milk and 2 cups half and half. Whisk to incorporate the flour into the milk, you don't want chunks. Add the Dijon mustard and nutmeg to the mixture at this point and some more salt and pepper, and simmer until the mixture is thick. Will take about 5 minutes (maybe longer, maybe shorter).
When thick enough, add the parmesan and cheddar cheeses. Stir until they are melted and the mixture looks cheesy. Stir in the goat cheese and butternut squash puree and mix to combine. Add another layer of salt and pepper. While cooking the cheese mixture, cook the pasta according to the box, but cook for 2 minutes less.
Before draining the pasta, add a cup of the pasta water to the cheese mixture. Drain the pasta and add to the cheese mixture. Transfer noodles to a large baking dish. Add more salt and pepper. Spread the mozzarella over the top of the pan for one last coating of cheese that will be ooey and gooey after you put it in the over.
In a saute pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter until browed (about 2-3 minutes). Add the panko bread crumbs to the butter and mix around until all bread crumbs are covered in butter. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the mac and cheese and pop in the oven for 10 minutes. The bread crumbs will brown up and the mozz. cheese will melt into the crust. YUM!