As you well know, when fall arrives I’m pretty much obsessed with all things pumpkin. From actually eating and drinking pumpkin-flavored treats to scattering them around my house and yard (pumpkins, not pumpkin-flavored things), I literally can’t get enough.
When it comes to being in the kitchen, I often find myself baking. I can’t really explain it, but I’ve just always been drawn to baking more than cooking. This is probably apparent since most of the recipes I share here on IBC are baked goods (and appetizers – I do like my appetizers.)
So, I’m challenging myself to try a few more savory dishes. Since it’s fall and I’m going for savory, I figured a Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Bacon would be the perfect compromise.
I know throwing pumpkin into the mix may seem a bit odd. However, it pairs well with the cheese and bacon. And, in all honestly, you can’t really taste it. I mean, you know it’s there so it makes it seem like this mac and cheese was created just for fall. It gives it this extra layer of cozy flavor. I like it!
For this recipe I’m using two different types of cheese. If you have been following my blog for a while, you might remember that last year I worked with Cracker Barrel cheese to create some posts here on IBC. I’m no longer working with them, but I always find myself going back to their cheese. It’s good stuff, people. Also, when cheese is such an important ingredient in a dish, I like to shred it fresh. In addition to the cheddar, I’m using this Dubliner cheese from Kerrygold. I recently sampled this cheese, and it’s now a favorite of mine. I suspected that it would go beautifully in this mac and cheese – and did it ever!
I also should point out that I bake my bacon. I line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, toss in a cooling rack and line the bacon up. It takes about 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. This is how I always cooked bacon when I ran my B&B. I like this method because the bacon cooks evenly, a lot of the grease drains away, and the bacon looks picture perfect when done.
With the cheese and the bacon ready and my pasta cooked, I prepared everything in this beautiful pumpkin cocotte from Staub. They actually sent it to me to try, and I was mega excited. This thing is gorgeous. I think it’s the nicest piece of cookware I own. Anyway, if I didn’t have to cook my pasta separately, this could all have been done in a single pan. Love that.
If you can believe it, this was my first time cooking mac and cheese from scratch. Oddly enough, I loved every second of it. The recipe came together quickly and easily.
The resulting dish is lovely and delicious. The cheese. The bacon. And pumpkiny undertones. Heavenly. Talk about a great meal or side for a cool fall night.
As always, you can find the recipe below. And, if you have a minute, please let me know what you think about incorporating a few more savory recipes into the IBC archives.
serves 8 to 1o as a side dish
Here's what you will need:
1 pound pasta (I used cavatappi.)
1 tablespoon olive oil (or bacon grease)
1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 cups freshly shredded cheese (I used a combination of sharp cheddar cheese and Dubliner.)
8 strips thick cut bacon, cooked
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Begin by cooking your pasta according to the package directions. I like mine al dente. Strain the water from the cooked pasta and set the pasta aside.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium or large oven-safe Dutch oven, add a thin layer of olive oil (or bacon grease). Then add your onions and sauté they until they start to golden. Ttoss in your garlic and cook for another minute.
Next, melt your butter with the onion and garlic. When melted, slowly whisk in the flour. Continue cooking and whisking for a minute.
Slowly mix the milk into the mixture until smooth. Continue to cook the mixture while stirring frequently until it bubbles and thickens. At this point, reduce the heat to low.
Stir in the onion powder, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree until smooth. Then add your shredded cheese. (I like to reserve a handful of cheese to top off the dish.) Whisk the cheese cause until melted and smooth.
Remove from heat, add your cooked pasta, and stir. Then, add your bacon and stir.
Sprinkle the panko crumbs over top. Then top with the reserved (or extra) cheese.
Cover with a lid and bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
More Pasta Recipes:
This post is not a sponsored post, however Staub did provide me with the Pumpkin Cocotte. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help to make this blog possible.