The creamy richness of this heart bake can be credited to its foundation: béchamel sauce, with a little something extra by Chef Lynn. “Béchamel is one of the classic, French sauces –one of the mother sauces. It is made with butter and milk, two of my favourite Ontario ingredients. My little twist is to add some finely diced white onion. It encourages a really solid foundation and gives great flavour to the sauce.”
In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the onion over medium high heat. Cook it through, but don’t get any colour on it. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Always stirring, gradually add the milk and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg and Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
Heat a large, non-stick skilletover medium heat. Add the sausage and onion and cook until evenly brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place the sausage mixture into a large bowl.
Return the skillet to the stove, lower heat to medium-low and add the 2 tablespoons of butter, butternut squash, thyme and chili flakes. Cook for about 6-8 minutes, stirring together until squash is fork tender. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add squash to the sausage mixture.
In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 litres of salted water. Add the macaroni and cook for about 6 minutes, until very al dente. Drain in a colander.
Return pasta to the pot and pour in béchamel sauce. Using a wooden spoon, mix well until all the pasta is coated with the sauce. Add 2 cups of the grated Cheddar and stir together until the cheese has melted.
Add the sausage mixture, butternut squash and parsley. Pour the pasta into a 9-by-13 inch baking dish and smooth out top and sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until bubbling and the top is golden brown.