Comfort Food 101: Homemade Mac & Cheese with a Twist
Leek Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle Oil
With the weather turning chilly and both of us craving comfort food, homemade macaroni and cheese came to mind. I wanted to make something a bit more inspired, so I got the idea for this creation from a recipe I once made when I needed a new use for an abundance of farm fresh leeks. Click here to read that recipe. The original recipe intrigued me with this note: “Unlike classic mac and cheese, which is thickened by a roux (a flour and butter mixture), this one uses eggs to make a rich, gooey custard.” Rich, gooey custard? Yes, please.
It sounded delicious, and after I made it and shared it with friends and family, everyone thought it was great. But I thought it could use a few tweaks. I rewrote the recipe and added another layer of flavor to the mild cheese sauce with a lovely truffle oil I picked up from D’Avolio on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. The truffle oil makes it pungent in the best way. If you like truffle, it’s a must! Don’t care for truffle oil or don’t have any on hand? You could easily make this dish without. Just skip that part!
The other changes I made included: going a little lighter on the leeks; using part cream and part milk; using half regular cheddar and half sharp — you can adjust the cheese to your taste; and adding a little more mustard and hot sauce.
So here she is! I’m sharing this original comfort food creation with you. She got rave reviews on our end. Tell me what you think!
Homemade Leek Macaroni and Cheese with Truffle Oil
1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter
4 c finely chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only) ~ 4 leeks
1/4 c all purpose flour
2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c milk (I used organic skim milk)
8 oz. cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 tbsp. whole grain dijon mustard
1 tsp. yellow mustard
2 tsp. hot pepper sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. white truffle oil
1 lb. fusilli, penne or small shells (I used fusilli made from organic semolina)
1 c Italian flavored breadcrumbs or asiago cheese croutons (see easy recipe below)
Asiago Cheese Croutons
Cut 1/2 loaf of asiago cheese bread into 1/2 in. pieces
Toast in oven at 350°F for 10 minutes or until lightly golden
Cut or break into crouton sized pieces
- Lightly butter a baking dish that measures roughly 15 x 10 x 2 inches.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- While making cheese sauce, bring large pot of boiling salted water to boil and cook pasta until al dente. Drain; return to pot.
- Melt 1/4 c butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; stir to coat. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Leeks should turn barely golden; do not brown.
- Uncover saucepan; add flour. Stir 2 minutes. Add milk; bring to simmer, stirring often. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add mustards and hot sauce. Remove from heat. Season cheese sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
- Whisk eggs in bowl. Gradually whisk in 1 c cheese sauce. Add egg mixture into cheese sauce in skillet. Add truffle oil and stir to distribute evenly.
- Stir cheese sauce into pasta in pot. Transfer dressed pasta to prepared baking dish. Evenly distribute breadcrumbs across top of pasta or cover entirely with asiago cheese croutons.
- Bake pasta until cheese sauce is bubbling around edges and croutons or breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes; serve and enjoy!