Leek Macaroni & Cheese
December 2, 2012 § 25 Comments
For the past two months, by day and by night, I’ve played hostess. I’ve taken your coat and plopped your family down in a big booth. I’ve smiled wiiiiiiide and often. I’m neat. I’m orderly. My hair’s tied back into a tight bun; my legs, pulled into stockings and a wool skirt. I’ve taken your room service order; I’ve haled your car from valet on a snowy night. I’ve been the voice on the other side of your reservation request – and your whine for that 8:30 time slot on a buzzing Friday night. I’m the one insisting you take one more box of matches. Not to mention, I’ve been jealous of that $10 mulled cider you drank.
The restaurant business is tough. And if my feet could talk, I think they’d be pretty quick to agree.
Behind you. Corner! Just one moment. Would you like me to take your coat? A coffee. A lounge seat. A high top table. Table 34 for 5. 86 homefries. Waitlists. La la la la laaaaa…
Late nights and early mornings. Bustling business men, crayons for kids! Some fancy the tables by the windows, others wouldn’t be caught dead on table 31. Some, a joy to see. Others, lend an eye roll.
It’s that 22 year old hustle, my friends, that, when “dinner time” rolls around, eating a quick, lackluster can ‘a soup will be just fine – when a foot massage and a bowl of homemade mashed potatoes feel like an emergency. It’s that slim biweekly paycheck shoveled into a weenie savings account, that moves us closer to mac and cheese.
Mac and cheese. An old time classic – an American child’s must-have dinner, and my very own version of a gourmet splurge.
Leeks, meet mac and cheese. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that leeks are 100% underrated. This recipe proves that.
And yes, there is not one spice listed here. Does this make you panic? I did, too. But whole milk and cheese, a splash of green, and elbow macaroni, have this dynamite, homestyle taste that I won’t deny.. Or forget.
The simplicity of this 7 ingredient dish is sure to present you with an abundance of happy company to indulge alongside with. You - the happy hostess – will pat yourself on the back for therapeutically healing your feet with every last bite of cheese, leek, and ‘roni.
recipe adapted from food & wine
makes 6-8 servings
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 bunch leek greens (from 1 1/2 pounds of leeks), thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbs all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups of shredded swiss & gruyere cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add the leeks and cook over high heat, stirring just until slightly wilted, 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to low, and cook until very tender, about 20 minutes.
In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the macaroni until nearly al dente. Drain well.
In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and cook over moderately high heat, whisking, for 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half and bring to a boil, whisking until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add 2 cups of the cheese, season with salt and pepper and whisk the cheese sauce until melted.
Add the macaroni and the cheese sauce to the leek greens and stir until combined.
Transfer the macaroni to an 8-by-11-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes, until bubbling. Turn the broiler on and broil the mac and cheese until golden brown on top, about 3 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Optional: bread crumbs sprinkled on top.