Source: Chef Jared Simon, Violet
Is it any wonder that I felt drawn to cooking a comfort food dish this weekend? I had been itching to try this recipe for a while, but the combination of a gloomy week and the knowledge that fall is just around the corner made today the perfect day to finally cook this.
You will need:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Heat a medium sized saute pan. Add the 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the ham and saute over medium heat until the cubes begin to brown. Add the leeks and toss with the ham. Add cream. When the cream begins to simmer, add the parmesan cheese. Add macaroni. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the macaroni mixture into four ovenproof dishes. Top each dish with gruyere cheese and bread crumbs.
- Bake the macaroni in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for approximately 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and garnish with chopped chives (optional).
Cooking Notes: (a) I couldn't find Serrano ham in BFE, so I just subbed in some Niman Ranch ham that I already had on hand. Prosciutto would be a closer substitute for the original however. (b) As you can tell, I baked it in one larger dish rather than individual serving pieces. (c) In order to brown the topping, I put the dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes after baking. Just keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn't start to burn.
The Verdict: "Make it again." I really enjoyed this. It didn't taste as heavy as a more traditional mac n' cheese, perhaps due to the delicate flavor of the leeks or because it didn't involve as much cheese. The one disadvantage I had in making this recipe is that I've never dined at Violet and therefore have not tasted it in its original form. Undoubtedly it would blow mine out of the water, but since I'm so pleased with how mine turned out I'm looking forward to whenever I do get a chance to try it at the restaurant.