Reuben Riffel’s butternut, bacon and mushroom mac and cheese

reuben riffel's butternut bacon and mushroom mac and cheese

Reuben Riffel claims he last made mac and cheese two years ago – but when we challenged him to a cook-off with Luke Dale-Roberts, he really pulled it out of the bag. This stellar recipe uses the sweetness of butternut along with toasted hazelnuts, sage and pancetta or bacon, to really take things up a notch.

Serves: 6


300g butternut
handful of sage
butter, for frying
4 Tbs butter, for cheese sauce
1 cup milk
150g Grana Padano
80g emmenthal
1 chopped red onion
2 leeks
olive oil for frying
250 g bacon or pancetta
200g mushrooms
100g hazelnuts
2 eggs
1 cup cream
1/2 tsp mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
500g macaroni
Salt and pepper


Boil water for the macaroni.

Chop the butternut into small cubes and fry in butter with sage.

For the cheese sauce:
Melt butter, and wait until it turns ever-so-slightly brown. Add milk and stir until smooth. Add half of the cheese into the sauce and stir until incorporated. Set aside.

For the mushrooms:
Fry the chopped red onion and leeks in butter and olive oil. Add bacon, then the mushrooms.

Chop and toast hazelnuts in a pan with a little butter.

In a bowl, beat the eggs with the cream. Stir in mustard and paprika. Add a small amount of the cheese sauce to the eggs, while stirring, to make a custard. Add the eggs back into the cheese sauce, stirring until smooth. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package instructions.

Mix the butternut, some of the bacon-and-mushroom mixture (keeping some aside for garnish), and cheese sauce with the pasta. Season to taste.

Pour into an oven-proof dish. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 15 minutes at 200 degrees. Garnish with the rest of the mushrooms, more grated Grana Padano and the toasted hazelnuts. Serve.

Recipe by Reuben Riffel of Reuben's.

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