So, you know that I lived in France when I was in elementary school. It was ok. I was young, and I definitely liked the pastries. Also, there were babies in my house at that point, so I pretended that I was their mother.
Also in France I dropped on of said babies on her head.
She's fine. I'm not sure if my mom has forgiven me yet for her forever-weakened heart after that particular incident, but the kid is graduating from high school this year and is a genius and is the tallest one of all of us.
I should have dropped her a few more times to level the playing field.
Anyway, while we were in France my parents learned to cook some super delicious foods. This dish is inspired by one of the dishes that I loved. Leeks wrapped in thin ham and topped with a gravy and potato mixture. YUM. We got to talking about it at dinner a few weeks ago, and I really wanted to make a version of my own to have on the reg here in the States.
This is creamy and salty and full of gravy and cheese and leeks. It's easy, you can make it way in advance, and it's GOOD. Promise.
I was making this for two, so my pictures reflect that. The ingredient list, though, is for 4-6 servings. It's heavy, so you don't need a ton of this.
Here's what you need:
- 6 - 8 oz diced pancetta or prosciutto (or any ham, really)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large leeks
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt and pepper
- 3 oz sharp white cheese, such as cheddar or Gruyere
- 1/4 cup parmesan
- 3 tablespoons capers, optional
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, optional
First, let's clean the leeks. Cut off the bottom root end. Mine had a tough brown outer skin, so I peeled that back and cut it off with the root.
Then, slice the leek in half lengthwise....
....and cut the halves into little slices so you end up with leek half moons.
Place the leeks in a large bowl, and fill the bowl with water.
Use your fingers to swish the leeks around in the water, then let them sit in the water (they'll float) for 5 minutes. As they sit, any grit will fall to the bottom of the water in the bowl.
Without disturbing the sediment, carefully remove the clean leek slices to a clean towel to drain.
Then, preheat a large skillet to medium heat and add the pancetta (or whatever you're using). Stir it around for 5 - 10 minutes until it's nice and crispy.
While the pancetta is cooking, scrub and chop one of the potatoes.
Then thinly slice the other. There's a method to this, my friends. Slice the second potato as thinly as you can.
Now, the ham is probably crispy, right? If it is, add the leeks and the chopped potato to the pan with the pancetta and the butter.
Stir everything together, and let the veggies start to soften.
Then, mince the garlic.
After 5 minutes, stir the veggies again and add the garlic.
Stir the garlic into the veggie mixture, and let the veggies continue to soften slowly for another 5 minutes.
Then, sprinkle the flour over all the veggies and stir it to coat evenly. Let the flour cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Then, add the wine! Keep stirring, it should mix with the flour to create a very thick gravy. If the wine doesn't bubble right away, turn the heat up slightly.
Now, add the cream...
....and the milk.
Then, dice up the cheese and add it to the veggie mixture with a sprinkle of salt and lots of pepper.
Now, turn the heat back to medium and let the mixture bubble for just another minute or two. Taste it, and add more salt and pepper if you'd like!
Then, dump the leek mixture into a casserole dish.
Now comes time for the other potato! Layer the slices evenly to form a pretty layer.
Then top the potato topping with salt and pepper.
And sprinkle the whole thing with the parmesan cheese.
Now we're ready to bake! This is where you would stop if you were making this in advance.
To bake the gratin, heat the oven to 375F and bake covered for 20 minutes. Poke the top with a fork - when the potatoes are nearly done, remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes until brown bits of cheese form and the gratin is very bubbly. Like this.
Perfect! Let the dish sit for 10 - 20 minutes to set a bit. It'll stay hot, I promise! While you're doing that, let's grab the capers and parsley, if you'd like to make a yummy topping for this.
Just like we did the other day, preheat a small skillet to medium-high heat and add the capers with a spray of cooking spray or some olive oil. Let the capers toast for 3 minutes, then add the parsley. Stir the parsley into the capers for 90 seconds, just to get it slightly crunchy, then turn the heat off. Done!
Serve the gratin like you would a lasagna, and top with the parsley and capers if you'd like.
I served this with crusty bread because....duh. It's bread.
This is wonderful. Easy, cozy, and so delicious. The pancetta makes a really nice salty contrast to the cheesy creamy filling. You'll love it!
This is so perfect that I included it in this week’s Weekend Potluck. It’s this cute thing where blogs from EVERYWHERE can submit recipes to share with others – it’s so fun to check out new things!