Posted by: Hil | April 20, 2013

Yukon Gold and Leek Gratin

 CIMG4280

I think that leeks are one of the best values at farmers’ markets.  In stores, so often the leeks that are available are mostly dark green with just a couple inches of the edible pale and white goodness.  At my farmers market, I can always find huge, fresh leeks that I only have to discard the very tips of.  And they are almost always cheap.  Normally, I use my leeks in soup or just halve and roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper—simple and delicious.  A couple of days ago, however, I wanted a heartier preparation to go with the chicken tenders I had planned for dinner.  I had a big bag of beautiful Yukon Gold potatoes in the pantry, so a potato-leek gratin seemed like a natural solution.  I wasn’t feeling like something quite as creamy and cheesy and rich as a traditional gratin, which typically calls for pouring straight cream over the leeks and potatoes.  I wanted to make something that tasted recognizably like a gratin, but in which the fresh leeks and potatoes could really be the stars rather than the cream.

First, I thinly sliced two Yukon Gold potatoes, layered them in the bottom of a baking dish, and seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme.  (Whenever reducing fat in a recipe, make sure to double and triple check that you have seasoned everything well at each stage of preparation.)

CIMG4272

Next, I thinly sliced two large leeks and minced a clove of garlic.  I softened them slightly in a pan with some butter, then added a sauce-like amount (about a cup?) of low fat milk.  I spiked the milk with a glug of cream (~3 tbsp) to help with thickening and flavor.  I would not use skim milk for this—you need some fat to make things creamy and cohesive.  Next, I added salt, pepper, thyme and a bay leaf to the mix.  I let the leek-milk mixture cook on medium heat for awhile, stirring occasionally.  This allowed the flavor of the leeks and herbs to seep into the milk and also let the milk reduce down a bit to become thicker and creamier.

 

CIMG4271  

Next, fish out the bay leaf, pour the leek-milk mixture over the potatoes and top with 2 oz. of shredded Rubusto cheese.  You can use another cheese—Gruyere and Parmesan are traditional–but I like Rubusto because it is full-flavored (so you don’t need as much) and browns prettily.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the cheese is browned.  If it looks like your gratin is drying out too much during cooking, you can add a splash of milk at each corner of the gratin.

 CIMG4275 

I was a little bit nervous at first about using milk instead of cream—some dishes really do need a heavy hand with cream in order to come out right. To my delight, this turned out great.  It was lighter and sweeter than a traditional gratin, but I didn’t miss the extra cream or cheese at all.  The leeks and potatoes were tender and savory, and the cheese and herbs added just enough of a punch of flavor.  I was glad that I used Yukon Gold potatoes, which are a naturally creamy potato that bring a lot of flavor to the party.  The Lemonator also gave his stamp of approval, pronouncing it “tasty.”  I will be making this again.

CIMG4278

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: