Leeky Mac & Cheese for twoPosted: September 6, 2011
Boil some dried pasta. Any kind will do (shells, ziti, spirals, or, if you’re feeling wild, actual macaroni). We usually cook up 125 grams (1/2 cup) of dried pasta per person. Chop up a vegetable of your choice. We almost always have great leeks in our veg bag, so we chop those up (after cleaning the dirt from between the layers – they can be a dirty little vegetable), or cauliflower, broccoli or greens such as kale. Part way through cooking the pasta, toss in your chopped vegetable and let it boil.
While that cooks, melt a tablespoon of butter over medium heat and in it brown a tablespoon of flour, stirring constantly (this is a roux). When it turns golden and starts to smell nutty, whisk in a cup or so of milk. Keep whisking for a while, or until your hand gets tired. Keep the heat low to medium, and eventually it will start to thicken (sometimes I lose hope and am sure it won’t thicken, then, just as I’m about to give up, it does; I’m sure it’s just chemistry, but I like to think it’s magic). Now you have your basic white sauce (you may use it to find love one day). Add a cup of shredded cheese (we usually use ordinary English cheeses like cheddar or Red Leicester, but most any kind will do, and if we have a bit of blue cheese, feta or something else on hand, we’ll throw it in), a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, some pepper and (optional) sea salt.
Combine the cooked pasta and sauce.
Now for an optional step: tip the concoction into a baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and a bit more shredded cheese. Since my hubby makes bread each week, we usually have crumbs and sesame seeds in the bottom of the bread bag and all over the counter top and cutting board. We sweep these into a small container to save for our mac and cheese topping. Or we grate the end of a loaf of bread with a cheese grater. (We rarely have white bread on hand, but if I’m being honest, white bread crumbs are the best).
With your toppings in place, grill/broil in the oven just for a few minutes (hard to justify firing up the oven for just five minutes, but it really is worth it; we have a little pizza oven that only takes a few minutes to heat up. It’s great for browning the mac and cheese, as well as making bubbly cheese on toast … mmm). Next time, we plan to use a little blow torch to brown the top (the kitchen kind, that is). If we don’t burn down the house, I’ll let you know how it goes.
Enjoy it with the one you love (even if that person is yourself).