Recipe: Leek and chicken macaroni cheese, a delicious take on classic comfort food

‘Sometimes we need a little comfort and this fulfills that need deliciously’ says our kitchen garden chef, Melanie Johnson.

Ingredients

  • 75g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 25g butter, plus a little more for cooking
  • 1tbspn mixed chopped herbs
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into goujons
  • A splash of olive oil
  • 2 leeks, washed carefully and finely sliced
  • 4tbspn plain flour
  • 500ml whole milk
  • 150g cheddar, grated
  • 350g macaroni, cooked

Method

Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4.

In a bowl, rub together the breadcrumbs with the butter, garlic and mixed herbs. Set aside.

Season the chicken and add a splash of olive oil to a large ovenproof frying pan. Brown the chicken all over and then remove to a plate.

Add the leeks to the same pan with some butter and cook gently until softened. Sprinkle over the flour, stirring to mix it into the leeks before adding the milk, little by little (you can add it a little more quickly half way through). When you have a smooth sauce, turn off the heat, add the cheese and, again, stir it in.

Tip the cooked pasta into the sauce and mix well. Taste for seasoning.

Place the chicken back in the frying pan and scatter over the breadcrumb mixture. Place it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Serve with steamed greens or lightly dressed salad leaves.

More ways with leeks:

Easy roasted leeks

Don’t underestimate what perfect companions leeks make. Simply blanch baby leeks in boiling water for a few minutes, toss in olive oil and then roast in a single layer in a hot oven for 12 minutes. Season well, squeeze over some lemon juice, grate on some Parmesan and serve. It’s difficult to think of a dish they won’t go with.

Leek and bacon rarebits

For the perfect Sunday supper, fry a couple of rashers of bacon until crisp. Remove to a plate. Add a chopped leek to the pan with butter and cook until soft. Add two tablespoons of plain flour and 120ml ale. Stir until smooth and then add a handful of grated cheddar. Return the bacon to the pan, add a teaspoon of whole grain mustard and mix everything together. Spoon onto toasted sourdough and scatter with fresh herbs.