Leek and Potato Gratin


Even though potato salad reigns supreme this time of year, I would like to share with you a cheesy, melty, savory potato dish that has transformed my opinion of potato dishes forever: Leek and Potato Gratin!

My inspiration for this recipe comes from my brand new cookbook that I got at last month’s Country Living Fair in Austin: Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer Purcell.  (This book is extra special because I had it signed by one of the Beekman boys himself!)

I first spotted this recipe in my November issue of Country Living Magazine and immediately knew that I had to serve it at my birthday dinner.  It was such a big hit that I served again for a few other meals including Easter lunch.

And guess who has two thumbs and is thinking of serving this alongside some tangy grilled chicken or a juicy sirloin this summer.

You guessed it!

Too rich for summer you say?  Well, the way I see it, this dish has every ingredient that would otherwise be slathered on a baked potato so why not cut out the middle man?  🙂

AND coming from someone who loves to nibble on these cheesy potatoes long after the party is over, this dish is just as delish at room temperature as it is piping hot.

Give it a try…and then give me some.

Leek and Potato Gratin

Be ready to rinse some veggies, folks.  Potatoes are dusty and leeks?  Well, leeks are a minefield of dirt and need a good purging or your lovely creation will be ruined by a mouthful of grit!

The best way to rinse leeks is to cut them in half length-wise in half:

Then, under running water, rinse the leeks pulling the leaves apart and rubbing the dirt out:

Shake out the excess water and thinly slice.  Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Toss in a teaspoon of grated, fresh garlic and stir.  Cook leeks until soft, about 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Season leeks with salt, pepper, thyme and a dash of fresh nutmeg and add a cup of heavy cream.

Cook’s tip: If you’re going light, use 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup of whatever milk you have lying around.  Don’t goo too light, though, or the dish will just wind up tasting watery.

Stir occasionally until mixture is thick, about 15 minutes.  Add heavy cream and cook until thick and reduced by half.  Turn heat off and set aside.

Slice a few pounds of either red or Russet potatoes (I leave the skins on) 1’4″ thick or thinner.

Cook’s Tip: To reduce baking time, you can parboil the potato slices in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes.  Drain well before using.  OR, keep your kitchen cooler and cook the potatoes on the grill until halfway done (about 30 minutes for large potatoes).

Butter a large baking dish.  (I prefer to use a round one).  Spread a couple tablespoons of the leek mixture on the bottom of the baking dish and arrange potatoes in a single concentric layer like so:

Next, spread half of the leek mixture evenly over the top of the potatoes:

Sprinkle a cup of grated cheese (I use an even mixture of Gruyere and Parmesan) on top of the leeks.

Repeat with another layer of potatoes, leeks and cheese.  Finish up with a final layer of potatoes and a sprinkling of cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.  Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes.

Cook’s Tip: If you chose to pre-cook your potatoes, cover dish and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or until cheese bubbles.

Allow dish to set for 15 minutes before serving.  Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Is it dinner time yet?

Recipe:

*4 Tablespoons butter

*1 Tablespoon olive oil

*5 lbs. leeks, white and light green portions only, rinsed well, cut into 1/4-inch rings

*2 large garlic gloves, grated

*1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt

*1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried

*1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

*1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

*1 cup heavy cream (or, if you must, half and half)

*1 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, grated

* 1 1/2 cup Parmesan or other sharp cheese, grated

*3 lb. Russet or red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices

*Fresh parsley rinsed and chopped

Remove the tough, dark green tops of the leeks (toss these in your compost pile or save for flavoring stocks or soups).  Cut leeks length-wise and rinse well.  Slice into 1/4″ rings.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks and garlic, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 20 minutes until leeks are soft.

Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme.  Pour in cream and stir.  Cook for 15 minutes until thick.

Spread a couple tablespoons of leek mixture evenly on the bottom of a buttered casserole dish.  Rinse and slice potatoes 1/4″ thick and arrange in a single concentric layer over the leeks.

Spread half of leek mixture evenly over the potatoes.  Mix the cheeses together and sprinkle 1 cup over the leeks.  Repeat by adding one more layer of potatoes, the rest of the leeks and 1 cup of cheese.

Finish with a final layer of potatoes and the last cup of cheese.

Cover dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.  Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes.  Allow dish to set for 15 minutes before serving.

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