Awhile back I was making quite a few mac and cheese recipes, one right after another it seemed. And it was because I like mac and cheese and so I can be a sucker for a recipe and had found a few different ones to try. I bring that up as this recipe was the last one on that list that I had yet to try. I’m not sure exactly why I waited on this one. Maybe it was a little mac and cheese burnout or simply that this one required a bit more effort so I just let it go for some time later.
And it does require a little bit of extra effort. The squash adds a whole other step (and length of time) to getting this ready. That has to be taken into consideration when deciding when to make it. Do you have enough time to put it all together and still make ‘dinner time’.
But all that being said, this turned out really well. I hate to say “better than expected” because I think it makes it sound as if I was expecting it to not be good. But I will admit that it was better than I expected. The flavor was really good. And my kids ate it. Fast, not questions, no issues. Not that they complain about the food. They eat pretty much anything but sometimes they are a little slower to eat some things. Not this. They sucked it right down.
I made two changes – first I used whole milk rather than what it called for. That is all we have in the house and I’ve found that using it for any recipe works just fine. I also used grated Parmesan cheese (you know, the kind from the can) instead of the pecorino. I can’t quite recall if I looked for Pecorino and couldn’t find it or just decided to not buy it. I remember wandering around the store, in the section where they have the “special” cheeses – that is, not your typical brick or shredded – and deciding if there was anything I wanted, needed, etc. I do like my cheese so I may have just been daydreaming about it.
Oh, and I baked this in one large (2 1/2 quart) dish rather than the small ramekins. One, I didn’t have any that size (or enough rather) and two, it seemed unnecessary. Maybe if this was for when company was coming over but for just us, one dish was enough. It worked just fine although the topping wasn’t really “crispy”. I mixed bread crumbs with Parmesan, not really measuring since I was using a different dish, and poured it over the top. I did forget to drizzle the oil, which I did with about 5 minutes left. I realize that not doing that at the beginning probably didn’t help the issue of not getting crispy but I also felt that simply drizzling the oil didn’t work very well. Too much opportunity to not evenly cover it. I would suggest mixing the oil in with the bread crumb mixture or substituting melted butter. I think making it into a wet, paste like mixture and then spreading it over would work well.
Ok, so maybe more than just two changes. :o)