Mac & Cheese with Leeks and Ham

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mac and cheese with leeks and ham
  • 4Servings


  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • About 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 large leeks, cleaned and cut into 1-inch half moons
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 pound mild cooked ham, such as prosciutto cotta, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • A little freshly grated or ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 pound maccheroni or penne rigate
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere or Comte (about 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2 oz.)
  • A few dashes Tabasco


1. Rub a small saucepan with the garlic; leave the garlic in the pan. Add the milk and stock and heat over medium just until warm. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

3. In a deep skillet or wide saucepan, heat the EVOO, one turn of the pan, over medium to medium-high. Add the leeks and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the ham, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a plate. Add the butter to the skillet. Once the butter melts, add the flour and whisk 1 minute to make a roux. Whisk the warm milk mixture into the roux and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat the broiler.

5. Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until al dente.

6. Stir the Gruyere and half the Parmigiano-Reggiano into the besciamella (white sauce) and add a few dashes Tabasco; season. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce along with the leek and ham mixture. Transfer to a 3-quart casserole dish. Top with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano. Broil until the filling is bubbly and the top is browned, 2 to 3 minutes.