Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelised Leeks

Words: Jess Spiro

Reliance Compost
With autumn upon us, it’s time to get your comfort food recipes sorted and this is one of the best ones. We’ve added leeks to add extra richness but feel free to add any other seasonal veggies you like – roasted butternut, cauliflower or even frozen peas! You can also completely omit the leeks for a classic ‘Mac and Cheese’.Leeks
Serves: 6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Macaroni and Cheese
450 g macaroni pasta
6 Tbsp (90 ml / 85 g) butter, plus extra
olive oil
4-6 leeks, well washed, white and light green part finely sliced
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp (30 ml / 55 g) flour
2 C (500 ml) milk
500 g good quality cheddar cheese, grated

Gratin Topping
½ C (125 ml) bread crumbs (or 2 hot dog rolls)
1 garlic clove
½ C (125 ml) Parmesan and Cheddar mix, grated

Macaroni and Cheese
Preheat the oven to 200 ºC.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until it’s left with a good bite, being careful not to overcook. Once ready, drain using a colander and set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt 4 of the tablespoons of butter and a good glug of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the finely sliced leeks and a pinch of salt and a good crack of black pepper, and allow the leeks to cook slowly and caramelise. Add more butter if the leeks get too dry. Once caramelised, take the leeks off the heat and allow to cool.

In a separate saucepan (or an ovenproof shallow casserole), melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over a medium heat. When the butter is foamy, add the flour and stir to combine to a paste, cook for a few minutes until the butter smells nutty and turns a golden brown colour (making a roux as a base for the Bechamel or white sauce). Pour in a little bit of the milk, and combine using a whisk, once the mixture thickens gradually add the rest of the milk, whisking gently the entire time (NB: it’s important to add the milk slowly and whisk well in-between or your white sauce will become lumpy) . Lower the heat and allow the flour to cook out and the mixture to thicken. Keep tasting the mixture to check if the flour has cooked out. If the mixture gets too thick before all the flour has cooked out, add more milk to thin it down. Once the white sauce is ready turn off the heat, and add the grated cheddar cheese, salt and pepper and gently stir to melt everything together.

Gratin Topping
In a clean bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese mix. Blitz the bread crumbs in a food processor with the garlic clove (or if making your own breadcrumbs, blend the soft inner part of the hot dog rolls with the garlic clove).

To assemble
If using an ovenproof casserole, add the pasta and the leeks to the cheese sauce and combine evenly. Otherwise, put everything together in a baking dish. Check the seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if necessary. Top with the breadcrumb and cheese mixture, then place in the oven for 10 minutes or until the mixture is hot throughout and the topping is crispy and browned. Remove from the oven, leave to stand for 5 minutes.Serve as a main meal with a simple side salad.

mac and cheese
Find out what else is in season currently click here for our Seasonal Fruit and Veggie Guide.

Delicious produce is grown in healthy, living soil. #Harvesttotable series brought to you by Reliance Compost.Reliance Compost

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