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      Pumpkin Mac "n" Cheese with Bacon, 10/26/12

      Jason Knapp


      1pound elbow macaroni

      4cups milk

      2sprigs thyme

      4cloves garlic,chopped

      3tablespoons unsalted butter

      3tablespoons all-purpose flour

      15oz can Pumpkin Puree

      6cups shredded sharp Cheddar


      Freshlyground black pepper

      1/4cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

      4slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips

      1large onion, diced

      2garlic cloves, chopped


      Cook Macaroni to boxspecifications.{}

      Preheat the oven to400 degrees F.

      In a small saucepanheat the milk with the thyme sprigs and 2 garlic cloves. Melt the butter in alarge, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook forabout 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming. Whisk it milkinto the butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook untilthe mixture is nice and smooth. Stir in the canned pumpkin and 5 cups of thecheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese. Season with salt andpepper. Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley and fold that all in to coatthe macaroni with the cheese mixture. Scrape into a {}baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 cupcheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

      While that bakes, heata saute pan. Add the bacon, render the fat and cook until crispy. Add onion,garlic and thyme leaves and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onion.Season with salt and pepper.

      To serve, remove thymesprig and scatter the bacon mixture over the mac and cheese.