Leek Mac and Cheese
- ACTIVE: 30 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 6
Cooks usually reserve dark, tough leek greens for stock. Here, Grace Parisi sautés them until they're soft and supple, then folds them into a luscious macaroni and cheese made with nutty Manchego.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 bunch leek greens (from 1 1/2 pounds of leeks), thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups half-and-half or whole milk
- 10 ounces Manchego cheese, shredded (2 1/2 cups)
- 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. Cook over low heat until very tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, 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.
- In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the macaroni until nearly al dente. Drain well. 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.
The earthiness of Manchego makes this mac and cheese taste especially good with a substantial red wine like Zinfandel.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.