Leek and Bacon Mac & Cheese with a Cheddar Panko Crust

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It is a childhood favorite.  I still remember making it from a pack when I was little kid. Both my sister and I would love eating it. However when I told my hubby I wanted to make it, he was less than excited.  He didn’t really grow up with it and had only tried the ones from a pack and didn’t like them. When I made this one last week, I am happy to say that he was the one going for seconds. This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

300gr Macaroni

100gr butter plus 1 tablespoon

100gr flour

800ml Milk

200gr Cheddar cheese, grated

200gr Gruyere cheese, grated

275gr Bacon, cut into small pieces

2 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced

3 shallots, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Nutmeg

Paprika powder

½ cup of panko

Salt

Pepper

 

First, cook the bacon. Once it is cooked, remove from the pan and set aside. Keep the fat in the pan. Add one tablespoon of butter and melt it. Add the leeks and shallots and cook over the low heat. Let it cook for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. You want the leeks to be very soft without getting browned. Then add the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add some salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and set aside.

To make the béchamel sauce, melt 100gr of butter in a saucepan.  Then whisk in the flour to make a roux.  Stir until the mixture has lightly browned. Then whisk in the milk. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it has thickened to the point that it coats the back of the spoon. Add the cooked bacon and leeks to the sauce. Then season it with salt, pepper, paprika powder and nutmeg to taste.

In the meanwhile, cook the pasta as instructed on the package and start your oven on broil.

Mix 1/3 of the grated cheddar with the panko and a bit of salt to make the crust.

Mix the grated gruyere with the remaining grated cheddar and whisk it into the béchamel sauce.  Once it has melted, add the cooked pasta and mix it all though.  Pour the pasta into a slightly buttered oven dish. Sprinkle the cheddar and panko mixture on top. Broil for a few minutes until the cheese has melted and the panko has gotten a golden color. Serve right away.

 

 

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