This is a beautiful marriage of our old mac and cheese with smoked cheddar and truffle oil and a new-ish idea that has been floating around where a humble butternut squash is blended into the cheese sauce to lower the fat and calories of this notorious gut bomb. The bonus is that the butternut squash adds a nice hit of sweetness and moisture to the dish in addition to improving its stats. That's right! Adding butternut squash makes mac and cheese healthier and better. How rare and wonderful is that?
Look for a medium-sized butternut squash that's smooth and firm and heavy for its size. You can peel it using a vegetable peeler and scrape the seeds out using a spoon. It's easy, but if need be, you can use cans of already-ready butternut squash for ease. There are a million ways to cook a butternut squash, but since this recipe already has a big pot of salted water going for the pasta, it's easiest to just throw the squash into the water to cook.
Make this for your family, and even the mac and cheese aficionados will love it. The combination of nutmeg, thyme, and truffle oil is a sure-fire savory combo.
In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook until flour starts to smell nutty and fragrant and begins to lightly brown. Add the milk, continue to whisk, turn the heat up to medium high, and allow mixture to boil. You will notice the mixture has thickened. Stir in the cheese and remove from heat. Add the cheese mixture to the work bowl (the one with the squash) of the food processor along with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and sherry vinegar. Blend until completely smooth.
Pour mixture into the pot with the cooked pasta, add the thyme, and mix until well incorporated. Pour into an 8 x 12 casserole dish. It will look like too much sauce for the amount of pasta, but it's not! Cover with bread crumbs and drizzle with black truffle oil. Bake for 25 minutes and serve hot out of the oven. (Makes 6 servings.)