Bacon and Leek Mac ‘n Cheese
Enrich mac and cheese with the deep flavors of bacon and leeks.
- 1/2 pound bacon
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 3-4 medium leeks, halved lengthwise then sliced 1/2-inch thick, rinsed and dried
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk, warmed
- A few grates of fresh nutmeg
- 1 box cavatappi (hollow corkscrew-shaped pasta) or penne rigate pasta
- 1 1/2 cups grated Emmentaler Swiss cheese or Gruyère cheese
- 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 round tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
Arrange the bacon on a slotted broiler pan and bake until crisp, 15-18 minutes. Remove and chop; reserve.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat; add the leeks and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Deglaze with the wine or stock; allow the liquid to almost evaporate and reserve over low heat.
In a saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then add the warm milk and simmer at a gentle bubble to thicken. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Season the boiling water with salt and cook the pasta to al dente.
Stir the Swiss or Gruyère and cheddar into white sauce; remove from the heat and stir in the Dijon.
Combine the pasta with the bacon, leeks and cheese sauce. Place in a baking dish or casserole and top with the Parmigiano Reggiano. Brown under the broiler. For a make-ahead meal, cool and bake off from room temperature at 375°F until brown and bubbly.