Recipe

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Rigatoni and Leeks

Lots of white cheddar, buttery leeks, and the addition of spices to make a more complex mornay sauce, this baked pasta dish is a delicious, more adult twist on a classic baked mac+cheese. Serves 8.
4TBSPNunsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
3Xleeks, dark green parts discarded, thinly sliced
5TBSPNflour
3 ½CUPSskim milk
1LBextra sharp white cheddar, grated
1TBSPNspicy dijon mustard
1TBSPNtabasco, or other hot sauce
1TSPNwhite pepper
1TSPNgarlic powder
1LBrigatoni, or other tube shaped pasta

  1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, butter a large baking dish, and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the leeks. Saute until translucent, about 4 minutes, then add the mustard, tabasco, white pepper, garlic powder, and salt and black pepper, to taste. 
  3. Add the flour to the leek mixture, stirring constantly until fully incorporated, about 3 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, add the rigatoni to the boiling salted water, and boil 2 minutes less than the package directs, or very al dente.  The pasta will continue to cook in the oven as it bakes in the mornay sauce. Strain the pasta and set aside, while the leek mixture continues to cook.
  5. Add the milk to the leek mixture, whisking constantly, and bring to a simmer until the milk has thickened, about 6 minutes.  
  6. Turn off the heat, stir the cheddar cheese into the leek mixture, then add the pasta.  Gently stir the pasta into the mornay sauce until all pieces are coated.
  7. Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish, cover with a lid or foil, and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover the pasta, and bake for an additional 10 minutes to melt the top of the baked pasta until it is golden brown and bubbling. 
  8. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool for 8 minutes.  Slice and serve immediately!

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