butternut squash mac and cheese
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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Bacon

This Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Bacon and a Crispy Sage Crust is one of my all time favorite recipes. Not only did I win Food Network's Guys Grocery Games with it but it's been a family favorite for almost 2 decades
Course: pasta
Cuisine: American
Keyword: asian pasta salad, bacon, butternut squash, cheese sauce, fall, mac and cheese, sage, thanksgiving

Ingredients

For the Mac and Cheese

  • 1 lb thick cut bacon finely diced
  • 1 large sweet onion finely diced
  • 1 large butternut squash, chopped about 4-5 cups
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 packages of Roth Grand Cru (12 oz) shredded (or 2 cups gruyere)
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 lb fusili pasta boiled and cooked al dente

For the Crispy Sage Crust

  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 6 sage leaves minced
  • 2 cups panko
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

For the Mac and Cheese

  • Boil water and prepare 1 lb of fusili pasta until al dente. Strain and set aside.
  • Add bacon to a heavy bottomed skillet and turn the heat to medium. Cook until fat has cooked out and bacon is crispy. Remove bacon. Pour out half of the rendered fat and leave the rest in the pan.
  • Add in diced sweet onion, and a few pinches of kosher salt and continue to cook over medium heat for about 6-8 minutes or until lightly caramelized - scraping up all the bits and pieces on the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the butternut squash cubes, another pinch of salt and 1.5 cups of water to the caramelized onions. Bring mixture back to a simmer and cover for 10 minutes or until the squash is soft.
  • Remove 1.5 cups of the cooked butternut squash (this will get remixed in later) and add 2 cups heavy cream.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend together the butternut squash mixture and the cream until smooth and creamy. Turn the heat back to medium and let the sauce reduce for a few minutes.
  • Stir in the cheese, little by little, until smooth and creamy. Add in the mustard and about 1 tsp salt then season with pepper.
  • Stir in reserved bacon and butternut squash and combine. Then add in the cooked pasta and season to taste one more time.

For the Crispy Sage Crust

  • Add 2 tbsp of salted butter to a nonstick pan and turn the heat to medium. Add in sage leaves and toast until fragrant for one minute.
  • Then add in the panko, and continuously stir, until they toast and become golden brown. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  • Pour the toasted sage topping on top of the mac and cheese then serve!