Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese

Fall has become synonymous with pumpkins – anything and everything pumpkin imaginable. There are many other flavors and foods I enjoy in the fall months but the obsession with pumpkin does hearken to seasonality. Not only are pumpkins in season but so are brussels sprouts, carrots, sage, rutabagas and a myriad of squash and gourds. Early fall is a time for a shifting of gears from tomatoes, cucumbers and the like to the fall crops.

That being said, I do love pumpkin. We tend polarize it more than other squash varieties by relegating it to pies, breads and lattes; rather than restricting this gourd, we should let it’s versatility shine. Many years ago, I remember watching Food Network’s Ellie Krieger put together a beautiful macaroni and cheese in which she incorporated squash puree to sneak in vegetables. After stocking up on pumpkin puree this dish came to mind and I decided to try my hand at a pumpkin macaroni and cheese. With classic Southern mac & cheese in mind, I put together what I thought would a full-bodied pumpkin version and I was not disappointed. The result was deliciously creamy, cheesy and rich albeit not low in fat by any means but that’s okay with me;

Finished Product (2)

Ingredients

10 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni or mini penne
1 1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c dry white wine
1/4 c unsalted chicken stock
1 c milk
1/2 c cream
2 oz. pancetta, choppped
1/2 shallot, chopped
1/2 c ricotta
1/8 t cardamom
1 t dijon mustard
1 pinch salt
1/4 t chili powder
1 t rosemary, finely chopped
1 c sharp cheddar, finely grated
1/4 c Jarlsberg, finely grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 c shaved Parmesan
2 slices deli cheese, provolone or swiss

Instructions

Heat oven to 375F.

Cook pasta until al dente, drain and set aside.

In a small pan, saute chopped shallot and pancetta. Set aside.

Chopped Pancetta Chopped Shallots

In a large saucepan, bring white wine and chicken stock to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and stir in pumpkin, milk, ricotta, shallots and pancetta. Allow to cook over medium for about 15 minutes; stir in cardamom, dijon, rosemary, chili powder, salt and pepper. Temper beaten eggs with sauce (so as not to scramble); then add to sauce.

Tempering Eggs

Slowly stir in sharp cheddar and Jarlsberg until combined. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce.

Adding Cheese to Sauce

Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Set aside. Pour pasta and sauce into a 9×9 baking dish. Tear apart slices of deli cheese and add place on top of pasta. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and Parmesan over top.

Cheese Breadcrumb Topping

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Serve hot.

Finished Product

Servings Given

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Smoked Pork with Carolina Peach BBQ Sauce and Cheddar Biscuits

Once again, it’s been awhile. When constantly out of town, recording recipes seems be one of the things I let fall to the wayside, kind of like dusting. Inspired by the end of summer and the onset of fall and after spending time in what I call yankeeland (aka anything above North Carolina), I needed a good dose of Southern food.

After spending a couple days with his family in Waxhaw, Caleb came back with a TON of smoked pork shoulder and beef brisket from his dad and lots of peaches from his mom.

Of course pork and peaches are a stellar match; I shredded up some of the pork shoulder and decided I’d try my hand at a peach bbq sauce. Rather than serving with buns as pulled pork sandwiches, I made good old biscuits with sharp cheddar and green onion and served with simple cut green beans with nothing but garlic, salt and pepper.

The biscuits are pretty non-traditional and super simple but the ingredients are not measured at all. I fix biscuits this way when I plan on serving them with something heavy on top, in this case, pulled pork.  

Carolina Peach BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

1 large peach, peeled, pit removed and finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 T butter
1/4 c spicy peach preserves
1/3 c honey
1/3 c dijon mustard
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1 T worcestershire sauce
1/2 c chicken stock, optional

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter and add chopped red onion. Saute until translucent.

Sauteeing Onion

Add remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring frequently.

BBQ Sauce Ingredients

If sauce becomes too thick for your liking, add chicken stock and increase cooking time by 10 minutes.

Cooked Sauce

Set sauce to the side. If smoked pork shoulder is hot, allow to cool completely. 

Smoked Pork

Using your hands and a fork, pull the pork apart. It does not need to be perfectly shredded.

Pulled Pork

Pour that yummy Carolina Peach BBQ Sauce on top and stir it up real good. Serve it on top of sliced biscuits and make sure the biscuits are covered completely.

Pork with BBQ SauceCheddar-Green Onion Biscuits

Instead of a list of ingredients, I’ll just provide basic instructions for these. 

Preheat oven to 400 F. 

Add desired amount of flour (any kind of your choosing, I use whole wheat) to a large mixing bowl. Stir in a good pinch of baking powder and salt.

Little by little add in yogurt, stirring as you go. Stop adding yogurt once mixture is crumbly and yogurt and flour and evenly distributed. Now, stir in cream until dough becomes a thick and discernible ball.

Stir in freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese and chopped green onion.

Place dough on a well floured surface and roll out to 1/2″ thickness. Using a biscuit cutter (or top of a mason jar, like I like to do), cut out biscuits and place on greased baking sheet.

Biscuits Before Oven

Cook for about 15 minutes or until golden. If using whole wheat flour, biscuits will be significantly darker than usual. 

Cooked Biscuits

Keep in mind that the texture of these biscuits won’t be quite the same as a traditional, fluffy Southern biscuit. They are however, very tasty and still definitely biscuits.