Last week I was sitting in the therapy gym working with a patient, just like I do every day of the work week, when all of a sudden a co-worker came through the door and says to me “pumpkin and cheddar mac and cheese.” Apparently The Rachael Ray Show had been on TV in a patient’s room and she happened to catch the cooking part of her show. Later that day we were still talking about the pumpkin mac and cheese, so I went on The Rachael Ray Show website and printed off a couple of copies for us.
When I mentioned to Marc that I was going to make macaroni and cheese he suggested putting caramelized onions in it. This is why I love the guy! What a great idea! They ended up seriously making this macaroni and cheese. Combined with the flavor from the pumpkin and spices, it was a delicious fall-inspired macaroni and cheese.
Pumpkin and Caramelized Onion Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from The Rachael Ray Show
1 large white onion, sliced
6 tbsp butter, divided
1 lb macaroni pasta
3 tbsp flour
1 cup amber beer
2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
2 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground mustard
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
1 (14 oz) can pumpkin puree
2 1/2 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese, divided
In large skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until golden brown and caramelized, about 30 minutes, stirring often.
After onions are done, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Also preheat broiler.
While pasta water is cooking, add remaining 4 tbsp butter to skillet with onions and melt over medium heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Then add beer. Reduce until almost evaporated, then add maple syrup and milk. Season with allspice, nutmeg, mustard, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper.
Cook until sauce is thick enough to coat back of spoon, about 5-8 minutes. Whisk in pumpkin and 2 cups of the grated cheese. Once melted, add cooked pasta into sauce and stir to completely combine. Pour into casserole dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Melt cheese under broiler until golden brown. Watch carefully!