Sounds like an odd combination, but it works. The pumpkin flavor isn’t very strong at all – it just gives it a nice creaminess.
- 8 oz dry macaroni pasta (I used orecchiette)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 apple, peeled and chopped (I used Fuji)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup pumpkin beer
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese (Note: I used half applewood smoked cheddar and half seriously sharp cheddar. It was pretty smoky. If you’re not a fan of smoky, you can use all sharp cheddar.)
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, stir to coat with oil, and let cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook another 5 minutes or so and then add the chopped apples. Lower heat to medium-low. Continue to cook apples and onions, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5-10 minutes or so, until onions are caramelized and apples are softened and golden brown. Set aside.
Start your roux. Add butter to a medium saucepan and let melt over medium heat. Add flour to the melted butter and whisk continuously for about a minute. Raise heat a bit and add the beer. Reduce until almost evaporated and mixture is quite thick, then whisk in the maple syrup and milk. Season with mustard powder, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Let cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in the pumpkin then whisk in the grated cheese until incorporated.
Stir together the pasta, cheese sauce, onions, and apples. Spread the mixture into an 8×8 glass baking dish and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, let cool slightly, then serve.
*Recipe adapted from Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with Apples and Caramelized Onions*