Friday, October 24, 2008

Mac and Cheese, that's healthy AND yummy

I found the secret to this recipe on a Food TV show. I changed much of the rest of it—but the host’s special trick, pureed butternut squash was a keeper! It is a very good mac and cheese—and you will never know that there is one serving of healthy vegetable per serving in this—or that it is so low in fat.
Do not fear the strong cheeses and a bit of beer-- you're children won't taste them, they just make for a flavorful mac and cheese

1 pound dry macaroni pasta
1 butternut squash, halved, roasted (375 degrees for 1 hours) and scooped out of skin
2 cups skim milk
½ cup strong beer
1 and ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
8 ounces very sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Buttered breadcrumbs to sprinkle on top

1) Start a very large pot hot water on to boil. Keeping it covered will bring it to boil faster. Once the water is boiling, add in the macaroni, stir and bring it back to a strong simmer. Once it is back to a simmer, begin timing and simmer for 7 minutes—until it is just al dente.

2) While the pasta is cooking, place the cooled, roasted butternut squash pulp into the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse to begin to puree. Add 1 cup of skim milk to ease this. Puree until smooth.

3) Pour into a medium soup pot, add remaining 1 cup skim milk and ½ cup beer. Bring to a simmer, stirring regularly. Add in the seasonings and stir to incorporate.

4) Remove from the heat and add in all of the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Taste and adjust seasoning—it should taste very flavourful and fairly salty, as it has to coat and flavour the unseasoned pasta.

5) Drain the cooked pasta very well. Pour the sauce over and stir well. It should be rather soupy—it will be baked later and absorb all of the sauce.

6) Pour into a 9 inch by 13 inch buttered casserole dish. At this point it can be cooled and covered then stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake and serve. Or you can bake it straight away.

7) When you are ready to bake: Cover the mac and cheese with buttered breadcrumbs. If it has been chilled, cover and allow to bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, then uncover and allow to continue to bake until golden brown on top. If you are starting from just after adding the hot sauce to the hot pasta, bake in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until just golden brown.

Makes about 12 adult side servings or 8 main course servings.

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