Cheat’s luxury macaroni cheese

This luxury macaroni cheese recipe is packed with rich cheese, savoury leeks, white wine and cream for a dish that’s full of flavour, topped off with a crunchy breadcrumb crust. It’s minimal effort, maximum reward – everyone who’s lucky enough to enjoy a portion will be wowed, and there’s no need to tell them how easy it was to make!

Cheat's luxury macaroni cheese
Chris Alack

SERVES 4

200g macaroni
250g leeks (trimmed weight)
200g comté or gruyère cheese
2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
sea salt and black pepper
200ml white wine
200ml single cream
1 level tbsp dijon mustard
nutmeg freshly grated
50g parmesan freshly grated
30g good-quality white breadcrumbs (for example sourdough)

1. Cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions until al dente and drain it in a colander.

2. Meanwhile, halve the leeks lengthways and slice them thinly.

3. Cut the comté into thin strips a few centimetres long. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat, add the leeks, season and fry for 7-10 minutes until soft and silky, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and simmer to reduce by half, then add the cream and mustard and bring to the boil. Season with nutmeg and stir in half the parmesan.

4. Towards the end of this time, heat the grill and place a gratin dish (for example an oval dish 30cm long) beneath to warm through. Stir the macaroni into the leek mixture and gently reheat, then mix in the comté and tip into the hot dish. Toss the breadcrumbs with a tablespoon of oil in a medium bowl, and mix in the remaining parmesan. Scatter this over the macaroni and pop under the grill for about 5 minutes until the cheese is molten and gooey and the crumbs are golden. Serve straight away.

Recipe by Annie Bell. Food styling by Clare Lewis. Styling by Sue Radcliffe.