Thursday, February 11, 2010

Leek and Gruyere Mac n' Cheese

There are so many recipes floating around the internet for macaroni and cheese these days.  It seems that this humble and classic dish is receiving more attention than average of late, and for good reason, in my opinion.  It's delicious, filling, simple to make, and easy on your wallet.  I happened to have most of the ingredients lying around this week, so I figured, why not?  It's so easy to warm up when I get home late from work and pretty much just involves adding a little shredded cheese to melt over the top and then letting it bake in the oven for a half hour at 350˚... et voila!  A meal fit for the most discriminating connoisseur.

For this variation, I used some of the most beautiful leeks I've seen in a while that I bought on my trip to the market.  It's rare that I see ones with so much of the tender sweet white part that I couldn't resist buying three of them.  I used some to make a sauté for my chicken dinner last night, some went into stock, and I still had leftover.  So, with the beautiful pasta that my mother sent me from Fresina's back home, I came up with the idea for mac n' cheese.  I love the sweetness of the leeks which is nicely balanced out by the nutty and herbaceous quality of the Gruyere.

Here's the recipe:

Leek and Gruyere Mac n' Cheese

2 cups cooked elbow pasta
1/2 cup leeks, carefully washed and roughly chopped
1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup Gruyere, shredded for the sauce
1/8 cup Gruyere, shredded for the topping
Salt and pepper
  1. Bring milk to a simmer in a sturdy sauce pan.  Add leeks, onions, bay leaf and allow them to steep for about twenty minutes, flavoring the milk.  Do not let the milk come to a boil.
  2. In another sturdy sauce pan, melt butter and whisk in flour to form a roux.  When the roux stop bubbling it is ready to combine with the "flavored" milk.
  3. Strain the milk into the pot with the roux, whisking carefully to incorporate evenly.  Bring the sauce to a low boil.
  4. Melt the Gruyere into the sauce and taste for seasoning.  Correct with salt and pepper if necessary.
  5. Pour over cooked pasta into a casserole dish so that the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce.
  6. Top with the 1/8 cup of Gruyere and bake in a 350˚ oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.
For re-heating, you can prepare this recipe up to step 5 and keep it in the fridge like I did this week.  Just increase your baking time by five to ten minutes and you'll get the same results if you're cooking the mac starting at fridge temp.

With wine: I like the zip of bubbles with the leek and Gruyere flavor.  My standby is Segura Viudas Cava, the house wine of The Majestic.  If you're looking for a white, try a Washington state Semillon.  L'Ecole 41 makes a fantastic one that I have been recently reminded of.  For reds, I would go right to a hearty, velvery Italian red made from Primitivo and Negroamoro.  I recently had one from Promessa that retailed for around $10 and was juicy and delicious with a light tannic backbone.  There was plenty of soft fruit to balance out the "oniony" flavor of this dish and enough body to stand up to its richness.

Bon appétit!


  1. Sounds delicious! I love mac n' cheese but I've never added leeks. Must try next week!

  2. i hope turns out well for you thanks for reading my post!

  3. Oh dear Lord. Please invite me to dinner. This is Love on a Plate.

  4. dear kitchen witch,
    you are welcome to drop by anytime you like!