Creamy homemade macaroni and cheese is made with gruyere cheese and filled with leeks and ham for an irresistible version of macaroni and cheese that the whole family will love.
What? It’s just me?
Maybe it’s my obsessiveness with food, but this recipe came to me at the perfect time. Here’s how it went down.
I love using leeks, but most (almost all) recipes call for 1 leek. Yet I can never buy just one leek. At the grocery stores near me, there are always 2 or 3 of the bundled together. Well, I needed one leek for a soup that I was making for dinner. The store had bundles of 3, so I just went for it. The soup was delicious, but I was still stuck with 2 leeks.
So I went to my archives. Which meant a few nights later, we had another recipe that used one leek.
While this is all going on, I end up with a ton of leftover ham. I was working on some recipe development for a client, and I had 2 almost full hams. My freezer is already full of ham, and I didn’t want to add even more to my stockpile. We had had our fill of ham sandwiches, so I was on the search for something new.
And then I saw it. Watching an episode of The Rachael Ray Show, she made a homemade macaroni and cheese with ham and leeks. It couldn’t have been better timing!! I just knew that it was going on our menu asap.
This is definitely not my first Rachael Ray homemade macaroni and cheese recipe. That lady knows her mac and cheese. And this one did not disappoint!!
In the original recipe, she uses a thin cut ham, but was easy to sub in some cubed, cooked ham. And while I would have never thought to put leeks in homemade macaroni and cheese, it totally works. I loved the extra flavor and texture that they brought.
And the cheese. Oh, how I love gruyere. This macaroni and cheese is creamy and flavorful and definitely family friendly.
I’m definitely going to be cozying up with this recipe all winter!
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- 1 lb macaroni
- 1 large clove garlic, smashed
- 2½ cups milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large leek, cleaned and cut into thin half-moons
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 lb cooked ham, diced
- 5 tablespoon butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 oz grated Gruyere cheese
- 2 oz grated Parmesan, divided
- a few dashes of hot sauce
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot.
- Place the oven rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the broiler.
- Meanwhile, rub the inside of a pot with the clove of garlic. Leave the garlic in the pan and add the milk and the chicken broth. Place over medium heat to warm. Once warmed, remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
- Place a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat. Add in the leeks and the thyme and cook, stirring often, until the leeks are wilted, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the ham and season with pepper. Pour into a bowl.
- In the same large skillet, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in the milk mixture, discarding the garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the gruyere and half of the Parmesan. Stir until the cheeses are melted. Stir in a few dashes of hot sauce.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, then add in the leeks and ham. Stir until combined. Pour the mixture into a 3-quart casserole dish and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Place until the broiler until the top is browned, 3-5 minutes.