Thursday, November 5, 2009

The start of November with Pumpkin Beer Mac & Cheese

November might just be my favorite month.  Not that America's finest city ever really has a "bad" month, but I do enjoy the warm days and cool nights.  Combined with one of the BEST food months of the year, I relish in decorating with fall colors.  We have to do some decorating in San Diego since we can't tell it's fall outside!  As much as I can, I do love bringing the outside indoors.  I have a trio of pygmy date palms out front that just produced their ripe fruit so I had to enjoy some in a vase.  The other thing I had to do was make this unique recipe I found - Pumpkin Beer Mac & Cheese with Bacon and Sage Topping.  Sounded interesting, so we went for it.

The first thing to do is cook up some bacon.  Pretty standard.  The next step was a new culinary adventure for me which I thoroughly enjoyed, possibly even more than the dish itself!  Frying sage leaves in the bacon fat.  The sizzle when those 6 simple sage leaves hit the grease was decadent.  They went from their muted, pale shade to a deep forest green in a matter of seconds.  They were so delicate that you really had to use care when removing them from the frying pan.  Then they lay on the towel basking in their transformation. 

Another interesting part to this recipe is making the sauce.  I really was unsure how this all was going to come together, since mixing pumpkin puree, pumpkin beer, and Worcestershire didn't sound like the greatest sauce, but with the added butter, flour, spices, and cheeses, it really made for a unique and light dish. 

I have to pause here and talk briefly about nutmeg.  Probably one of my favorite spices, but only when freshly grated.  I love the feeling as you grate a piece of whole nutmeg - it is so rock-hard and sturdy then quickly releases it's highly intoxicating, aromatic smell.  I didn't realize just how intoxicating the smell was until I read a bit more about my favorite spice and found that it actually is believed to have intoxicating properties!  Not exactly sure I'll try having a "nutmeg session", but it was enlightening to read about. 

To complete the dish, you toss some toasted bread crumbs in butter and parmesan cheese, and then crumble in the bacon and fried sage.  Crumbling those beautifully fried sage leaves left me with mixed emotions.  Sadness to see them crumble from the regal glory, but pleased in their paper-thin delicacy as they gave in with just the slightest of touch.  This all completed a wonderful topping that browned perfectly as the mac & cheese baked to a bubbly, crunchy goodness. 

Much more to come this month.  From the first annual San Diego Beer Week, to the greatly anticipated annual Wine and Food Festival, all the way to my Thanksgiving open house...bring it on, November!!  Oh, and the Chargers beat the Raiders...AGAIN!!! 


  1. I am completely confused on this dish. I wonder how anyone even came up with it. Your description made it so interesting that I am going to have to try it. Very unique, thanks for sharing!

  2. It was definitely a different dish, but it was interesting and I enjoyed trying it. A lot probably depends on the type of pumpkin ale you use since that flavor profile comes through fairly strongly. I used Buffalo Bill's American Original Pumpkin Ale. There is a substantial amount of pumpkin and spices in that beer and they really came through.