Friday, 13 April 2012

Leek and bacon pasta with cheese sauce

I'm back from my hols. I've missed doing my blog, but have had a relaxing week away with good company and good food. I hope I haven't been too much of a control freak in the kitchen. We planned the meals beforehand and had an online shop delivered to the holiday house. It really makes for a relaxing holiday, not having to think about food shopping when you are away. We really ate well, I've got a couple of new recipes to try from my friend Jane, which I'll do in due course. Last night we had a really old favourite, Delia Smiths, leek and bacon macaroni, from "The complete illustrated cookery course".  It's a great meal when cooking for a large number of people and can be prepared well before hand, and cooked when needed.

Serves 4

350g penne or macaroni
50g butter

olive oil
3 small leeks, thinly sliced 
175g streaky bacon, chopped into strips
For the sauce:
50g butter
50g plain flour
850ml milk
75ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
175g cheddar cheese, grated
For the topping:

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)
Cayenne pepper (optional)

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add a few drops of olive oil and cook the penne for exactly 10 minutes  Drain and rinse with cold water, and set aside.

In large, heavy frying pan melt 50g of butter then add the leeks and bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until the leeks are browning and the bacon is somewhat crispy.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce by putting the remaining the butter, the flour, and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring gently to a simmer and stir until thick and bubbly. Stir in the cheese and add a generous grinding of black pepper, and some nutmeg.

In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, leek mixture and cheese sauce. Place in one large gratin dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, then dust lightly with cayenne pepper.

Bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes until nicely brown and bubbly. If prepared ahead and refrigerated, allow for a few minutes extra cooking time.

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