Butternut Squash and Chorizo Macaroni Cheese

I don’t know about you but autumn is the time of year when I am most excited to be in the kitchen! I think it’s just when the weather begins to turn frosty and the leaves outside crispen and curl that I particularly enjoy cooking the hearty, comfort foods that we all love to indulge in. So what a better way to celebrate the colour and taste of autumn than with this delicious seasonal dish using homegrown butternut squash? This recipe was inspired by Farmersgirl Kitchen, where I first discovered the amazing squash and chorizo combo, but I’ve given it my own variations for extra flavour and crunch!

I must warn you that this is a super rich dish so you might like to (but you really shouldn’t) cut back on the cheese topping or the added soft cheese…can you tell I’m a big fan of cheese? But whatever you do, don’t forget or leave out the chorizo! It takes this recipe to a whole new level. The smoky, paprika flavours mingle effortlessly with the sweet butternut squash and the meat gives the dish that extra BITE!

Ingredients

350g macaroni pasta
200g (spicy) chorizo cut into 1-2cm chunks
180g of grated cheese (100g cheddar 80g red Leicester)
50g garlic and herb soft cheese
1 small butternut squash (approx. 000g)
300ml milk
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
40g grated cheese for topping
20g breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of paprika

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Slice the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and brush the surface with olive oil. Peel the two garlic cloves and place one inside each of the butternut squash halves. Place them cut side up on a baking tray and oven roast for 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft all the way through when skewered.

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Put the macaroni pasta into a large saucepan and boil for approx. 20 minutes or until soft. While the pasta and squash continue to cook, set your hob on a medium/low heat and place your chorizo into a dry frying pan. Lightly fry the chorizo until all the beautiful paprika-coloured oil seeps out into the pan and the meat is still soft and not crispy.

When the butternut squash has finished cooking, remove the garlic (for now) and allow to cool for a moment before peeling away the blistered-skin of the squash with your hands. Roughly chop the squash into 1 inch pieces.

Pour the milk into your blender or food processor along with the all the cheeses, the garlic, butternut squash, cayenne pepper, basil and black pepper. Whizz the mixture until you have a thick cheese sauce. Mine could stand a spoon up in it but would still pour. You may need to add more milk depending on the amount of squash you are using.

Drain the pasta and return to the empty saucepan. Pour over the cheese sauce and mix thoroughly. Then tip the chorizo into the pasta, making sure all those yummy oils go in too to give the sauce a rich orange colour!

Pour the pasta mix into a large baking dish. Bake for approx. 5-10 minutes to remove the moisture from the top of the bake. Then sprinkle on the extra cheese, a dusting of paprika and the breadcrumbs. Continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes until the macaroni cheese forms a crispy, golden brown crust. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

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