Rigatoni with Creamed Leeks and Chivey Breadcrumbs

SERVES: 4

Give your leeks the time they need to become meltingly tender and drive off all of the water, before you add the cream for the most flavorful, luxurious results. Any shape of pasta will work well here but I like how the breadcrumbs cling to big shapes like rigatoni and paccheri. Do you!

Active Time: 1 hr

Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins

rigatoni

Produce

  • 6 medium leeks (3½ -4 pounds)
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch chives

Pantry

  • 12 ounces rigatoni (or other short pasta)
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

Dairy

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Do some prep:

  • Trim the hairy ends and dark green parts of 6 medium leeks. Cut the white/light green parts of the leeks lengthwise in quarters and then thinly slice the leeks crosswise. If dirty, rinse the sliced leeks in a mesh strainer to release the grit, and pat dry.

     

  • Thinly slice 8 garlic cloves.

     

  • Thinly slice 1 bunch of chives

3. Cream the leeks:

  • Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a large Dutch oven, over medium heat until the foaming subsides.

     

  • Add the leeks, sliced garlic and a big pinch of salt and cook until bright and fragrant, but not yet softened, 3 minutes.
  • Add 1½ cups of water, and simmer, stirring often, until all the water has evaporated and the leeks are tender, 15-25 minutes (depending on the size of your Dutch oven).

     

  • Stir in ¾ cup heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season the creamed leeks with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. (The pepper is crucial here, to cut through all of that fat).
  • Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm while the pasta cooks.

4. Make the chivey breadcrumbs:

  • Cook ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are deeply golden brown, 4-7minutes.
  • Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.

5. Cook the pasta:

  • Add 12 ounces rigatoni to the boiling water and stir well. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Before draining, scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

     

  • Add the drained pasta to the creamed leeks, along with ½ cup of pasta water and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, while you add 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese, one handful at a time. You may need to add more pasta water to help thin out the sauce--it should cling nicely to the noodles, but err on the side of a looser sauce than you ultimately want because the cream will seize up some as it cools.

     

  • Once all of the cheese has been added, grate the zest of half a lemon into the pasta, and squeeze in the juice of the whole lemon. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

     

  • Stir the sliced chives into the cooled toasted breadcrumbs, season them with salt. Divide the pasta among bowls, and top with the chivey breadcrumbs, and more black pepper and parm.

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