Leeks love ham, particularly the intense flavour of cured ham. There is unami-like alchemy when leeks are cooked with prosciutto and eaten with Parmesan, and you don’t need much of any of them. For this quick and easy pasta supper, the leeks are sliced in thick pennies and softened in butter and fat rendered from the ham. They end up impossibly juicy and leeky and the ham will be darker and more like bacon. When this mix is stirred into buttery macaroni with lashings of freshly grated good quality Parmesan, it is heaven indeed. Quantities are easy to scale up or down and everything is easy to shop for, quick to prepare and the cooking is faster than heating up a ready meal. What’s not to like? Don’t you just hate that expression.
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 15 min
5 slices prosciutto or Serrano ham
2 trimmed leeks, approx 200g
50g lump of Parmesan
Cook the macaroni in plenty of salted water according to packet instructions. It is likely to take about 12 minutes, which is more or less the time needed to cook the ham and leeks. Tear or slice the ham across the width into chunky strips. Trim and slice the leek in thick pennies approx 1cm wide. Soak in a bowl of cold water to clean, drain and shake dry. Melt 25g butter in a lidded frying pan or pan that can hold the leeks in a single layer. When it begins to make tiny bubbles, scatter the strips of ham into the butter and leave to shrink, shrivel and darken, turning after a couple of minutes. Add the drained leeks. Stir, season lightly with salt and generously with freshly grated black pepper, cover and cook gently, stirring a few times, for 6-8 minutes until just al dente, browning on some edges. When the macaroni is tender, drain, add the remaining butter and half the Parmesan, grated finely. Stir thoroughly then add the contents of the leek pan. Stir and serve with more grated Parmesan.