February 5, 2011

Mac and Cheese with leeks

Alright. So the mac and cheese was a complete success.

Over the snow week I watched some Food Network on Hulu because I don't have cable, and I saw Giada and Ina make their own mac and cheeses. So I decided to try my own. Oh, and on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives there was this restaurant that made a kick-ass mac and cheese. Ina and the guy on DDD made a white sauce first and then added cheese to that. Those both looked the most fattening, so of course that is the route I chose.

I had a huge leek that I needed to use, so I added that as well. You could use an onion, shallots, or completely leave it out.  I don't really measure well...So these are guesstimates.

1 large leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
3 TB oil (canola or olive)
1 TB butter
2/3 cup flour
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
3/4 tsp nutmeg
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz parmigiana cheese, grated
4 oz romano cheese, grated
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup bread crumbs (italian, wheat, or any kind)
1/4 cup parmigiana cheese, grated
2 TB butter
1 box penne or similar pasta

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Take the sliced leek and put it in a colander. Run water over the leeks and break them up with your fingers. Leeks can have sand or dirt stuck in them so be sure you wash them well.
Bring water to boil for your pasta. Usually the directions on the side of the box will tell you how much water you need to add. When the water comes to a boil add a teaspoonish of salt and then add the pasta.

Pour the oil into a large pot over medium-high heat. (I used a soup pot) Add the leeks. Saute until soft.
Add the butter and saute until it melts. Add the flour and stir around until all the flour is mixed with the oil. Stir around for one more minute. Now whisk in your milk. You want to whisk it around until there are no clumps. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Stir the mixture constantly until it starts to thicken. Turn down the heat to low and add all your cheeses, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir until all the cheese is melted.

While all this is going on be sure you cook your pasta until al dente. Usually it takes about 2 minutes less than what it says on the package. Drain the pasta. Add it to the cheesy sauce.

Spray a 13 X 9 pan with non-stick cooking spray and then add your noodles and sauce.
In a small bowl mix your bread crumbs and cheese. Sprinkle cheese and crumbs over the top of the pasta. Dot the butter over the top. (By dot, I mean take small pinches or dices of the butter and put them over the whole dish in random spots. This will help the bread crumbs form a crispy crust)

Put the dish in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on top.

I forgot to get a picture before Salm and I dug into it. 

Salm put a bag of peas in the microwave because we love peas . They were fantastic with the mac and cheese. I would recommend it. 

You can play with this and change cheeses, add mushrooms or other vegetables. 
We don't eat meat, but I bet bacon would work well if you're into that sort of thing.

I hope this works out for you!

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