I really love Fleetwood Mac. When I was growing up in the ‘80s I was anti-Fleetwood Mac — they were just so popular, so ubiquitous, so corporate, and the little streak in me that I hadn’t yet identified as punk rock didn’t want anything to do with them. But time passed, and after I realized that popular doesn’t always equal bad, I began to embrace them for their melody, their harmonies, Lindsey Buckingham’s mastery of the guitar, Stevie Nicks’ haunting voice, and the rhythm section’s general solidness. And, of course, I also love them for the drama.
If you ask me what my favourite album of all time is, like at least a quarter of the rest of the world, I’m bound to tell you that it’s their 1977 classic Rumours (that’s right, officially spelled with a “u”). The divorce-rock masterpiece is a portrait of couples breaking up and having to continue working together, and then maybe getting together with other people, who both parties also have to continue working with together. It’s juicy and big and bold and just so perfect.
Fleetwood Mac are playing in Calgary this week and my sweet husband bought me tickets for Christmas. In their honour, I thought it was necessary to immortalize the band in pasta. I was toying with the idea of doing Fleetwood Macaroons, but something about a two-sided baked macaroni — with one side representing the masculine, the other the feminine — just seemed appropriate. So I present to you Fleetwood Mac and Cheese. One side, with earthy butternut squash and tangy blue cheese represents Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. The other, with sausage and beer, represents the gentlemen of the band: Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood. Bake it in a divided casserole dish if you want to represent the pre or post-Rumours eras or carefully place each half in a single dish if you want the gooey mess of mid-‘70s.
Fleetwood Mac and Cheese
Adapted from this recipe at FoodNetwork.com
½ butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 cups dry macaroni pasta
4 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup beer (I used Big Rock SAAZ Republic Pilz)
1 bay leaf
A couple of shakes of ground nutmeg
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
2 cooked bratwurst or other sausage
½ crumbled cup blue cheese
¾ cup shredded horseradish cheddar
a handful of Panko breadcrumbs
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place cubed squash in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and roast until tender, about 20 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the macaroni. Cook until al dente, according to the instructions on the package. Drain cooked pasta, reserving some cooking water to use for the sauce.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously, for about two minutes, until flour is slightly browned, then whisk in the milk, followed by the beer. Add the bay leaf and nutmeg and simmer for about 8 minutes, whisking occasionally. The mixture should be pretty thick at this point. Take out the bay leaf and stir in the cheddar, stirring until everything is consistently melted. Add a little bit of reserved cooking water so that the sauce is loose enough to easily coat the pasta.
Separate the pasta into two equal parts. To one half, add the roasted squash and blue cheese, and stir until the additions are equally distributed. Add the sausage to the second half. Carefully put each variety of mac into a 2.5-quart casserole dish, being careful not to mix them together. I did this by standing a Tupperware lid in the centre of the dish as a barrier, then removing it after I poured the pasta in.
Top the butternut squash side with the Panko and sprinkle the horseradish cheddar on the sausage side. Turn the oven down to 425 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with a green salad to represent the gobs of money that the band have made off of Rumours’ millions of album sales.
And, to transport back to 1977, here’s the classic Fleetwood Mac line-up performing “The Chain”: