Hugh's Southern Mac and Cheese

YieldMakes 4 to 6 servings

Total Time1 Hour 35 Mins



  • 1/4 pound thick bacon slices, diced (about 4 slices)
  • 2 medium leeks, cut into 1/2-inch rounds (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 (16-oz.) package uncooked cavatappi pasta
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground red pepper
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) freshly grated 2-year-old aged Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup toasted soft, fresh breadcrumbs


    Step 1

    Preheat oven to 375°. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels. Discard drippings.

    Step 2

    Cook leeks in 4-qt. boiling water in a large Dutch oven 5 minutes. Remove leeks with a slotted spoon, reserving boiling water in Dutch oven. Plunge leeks into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain.

    Step 3

    Add pasta to boiling water, and cook 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain.

    Step 4

    Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and whisk in flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes or until golden brown. Slowly whisk in milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 3 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in dry mustard, next 3 ingredients, and 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Season with salt to taste.

    Step 5

    Gently stir together pasta, cheese sauce, half each of cooked bacon and leeks, and egg yolk. Stir in Gruyère cheese and remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese. Spoon pasta mixture into a buttered 8-inch cast-iron skillet, and sprinkle with remaining bacon and leeks. Drizzle with cream; sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

    Step 6

    Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Originally published on Southern Living, Hugh's Southern Mac and Cheese.