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Sausage and Leek Baked Macaroni and Cheese

25 Feb

I thought about making this dish all  day.  I yearned for it, pined for it, fantasized about it.  My mouth watered over it, my tummy rumbled over it.  At a certain point, I began to tell myself, “Chill out.  It won’t be nearly as good as you’re imagining it will be.  You’re building it up too much.  You’re going to disappoint yourself!”  I wanted this to be good, because yesterday Zak told me he ate dinner on Monday at “this burger Asiany place” where he got a “truffle cheese and glazed burger and split a truffle beet salad.”  I asked him where and my suspicions were confirmed – Umami Burger.  I was jealous.

After I ate this, though, I wasn’t jealous.  All of my pining paid off.  This was delicious.  The crispy, smokey goodness of the sausage, the creamy deliciousness of the cheese and macaroni, and the slightly bitter flavor of the leek greens worked so well together.  The panko crust was buttery and crunchy.  This was so, so good.  It takes about 15 minutes of hands on time and is simple and easy.  If you can chop up some sausage and use a whisk, you can make this macaroni and cheese to end all macaroni and cheeses.

Sausage and Leek Baked Macaroni and Cheese

1 cup elbow noodles, cooked al dente and drained (I used Barilla Plus for some extra nutritional value)

4 oz. smoked low fat turkey sausage, cut into 1/2″ dice

1 tsp. olive oil

1/2 cup leek greens, roughly chopped

1/2 cup Swiss cheese, grated

1/2 cup very sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 cup 1% milk

3 tbs. unsalted butter, softened and divided

1 tbs. all natural, whole wheat flour

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 425°.

Heat a olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add turkey sausage and sauté until well-browned and crispy, 8-10 minutes.  Add leek greens and stir to coat with any rendered fat and olive oil.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat milk in a small saucepan until heated through and barely at a simmer.

Melt 2 1/2 tbs. butter over medium heat in a medium sauté pan.  Slowly whisk in flour to form a rue.  While whisking, slowly add hot milk.  When smooth, while whisking, add grated cheese in small batches to form a sauce.

Mix together pasta, sauce, sausage, and leeks.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Place in an oven proof bowl.

Mix together remaining 1/2 tbs. butter and bread crumbs.  Top noodles with bread crumbs and bake, uncovered, 25 minutes until bread crumbs are golden brown and cheese sauce is bubbling.

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