Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Linguica
When I first made Smoked Gouda and Pumpkin Mac and Cheese, my friends went crazy for it. And not just because we’re all obsessed with pumpkin at this time of year. My friends could not get enough of this creamy cheesy perfect comfort food.
By friends, I mean real life friends and co-workers who actually ate the mac and cheese, AND my invisible internet friends, thanks to Pinterest and Instagram. Well, it’s been two years and I figured it’s time for an update. I took the base of this creamy, tangy, orange and bright mac and cheese and changed up the smoke levels by adding linguica sausage. So Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Linguica was born.
Liguica is a Portuguese sausage, seasoned with lots of garlic and paprika. It has just the right amount of spice and a lot of smokiness. It’s a juicy cured pork sausage, with the casing giving a nice snap with each bite. It’s usually served as part of a heavier meal, with rice, beans, and other pork products (like ham hocks) but I like it most eaten plain, in omelettes, and now, in mac and cheese.
Most linguica sausages sold in American supermarkets are already pre-cooked or fully-cooked. It’s easy to just slice it up and fry in some olive oil, and it will release its juices in the pan as it browns. I love this mac and cheese recipe because I do most of the cooking in one pan: in my trusty dutch oven. I cooked the sausages here first, then moved it to one side, and started the base or the “roux” right in the pan, adding the pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, and vegetable stock along with the other seasonings. I cooked the macaroni separately, then added it to the dutch oven, resulting in one glorious cheesy carby pan.
I was ready to eat this as is, and just call it “Stovetop Mac and Cheese” but I do like that extra layer of melted cheese and the crunchy breadcrumbs on top of baked mac, so into the oven it went. In hindsight, I could’ve browned the breadcrumbs a little more by baking everything longer, or even broiling the tops, but I didn’t mind the pale panko breadcrumbs. All that mattered was the CRUNCH it added!
Instead of baking the entire thing in one big dish, I divided it into multiple smaller dishes – a few ramekins, a couple of square dishes, a smaller casserole pan. I have a collection of smaller vintage dishes, thanks to my mom who has a vast collection of antiques. I like using these older pieces alongside my more modern ones (by modern, I mean still vintage-looking plates but purchased at Anthropologie…) These individual servings should help with portion control, but no one stopped me from eating two ramekins worth of mac and cheese (again).
Chorizo sausage would work equally well if you don’t have linguica in your grocery stores. Spicy Italian sausage would be okay, too, but you’ll lose the smoky flavor. And we’re all about the smoke here. Smoky sausage, creamy pumpkin, tangy yogurt, a little bit of spice, and a whole lotta cheese. Gush-worthy? Yes. Craze-worthy? Absolutely.
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Linguica
1 box (16 oz) whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 links(12 oz) smoked linguica sausage, sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 1/2 cups shredded mild cheddar and monterey jack (or use whatever mix you like)
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan or dutch oven. Add sliced linguica sausage and cook until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Move sausage to one side. On one half of the pan, add butter and shallots and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, and vegetable stock, stir everything together until smooth.
- Turn the heat down to medium low. Add cayenne pepper and smoked paprika cooking for 3-5 minutes. Add all of the sharp cheddar and 1 cup of mild cheddar and jack cheese blend, reserving 1/2 cup for later. Stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like.
- Add cooked elbow macaroni to sauce, tossing gently to combine. Spoon onto a baking dish (and/or individual ramekins).
- Top the macaroni with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes and serve.
What’s the latest pumpkin recipe you went crazy for?