A friend of ours often comments on Rich’s Facebook page when he notes something different I’ve made for him – like Tom Kha Kai Soup. Bob will say “Richard, you are SOOO lucky!” Thing is, Rich also has to sit through my less than stellar efforts as well – such as this gratin of leaks with a cheese sauce and toasted cubes of home made French bread.
I don’t know where I went wrong…
•White and light green parts of six leeks
•2 tbsp unsalted butter
•1/4 cup flour
•2 cups whole milk
•1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
•Salt and pepper
•3 slices of bread, cubed
•3 tbsp olive oil
Caveats: I used a package of frozen, sliced leeks I’d picked up to make a quick vichyssoise over the summer, so mebbe that’s what did me in. I also substituted plain soy milk for the whole milk, but added some Aleppo pepper and freeze dried shallots to the sauce to counter the extra sweetness.
On with the recipe:
Heat oven to 375°.
Arrange the sliced leeks in the bottom of a baking dish.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat, then whisk in the flour.
Continue to stir for about a minute, until the flour and butter mixture is golden brown, then whisk in the milk, along with salt and pepper to taste – I went with 1-1/2 teaspoons of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon Tellicherry pepper.
Continue whisking until smooth and the mixture begins to boil, then remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.
Continue stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce smooth.
Taste and correct the seasoning.
In truth, I thought the sauce not too, too bad, but added 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco Chipotle to liven things up a bit..
Toss the torn bread – I used three slices of my Sweet Honey French Bread cut into cubes – with the olive oil and a bit more of the sea salt and pepper.
Pour the cheese sauce over the leeks in the casserole dish and then top with the oiled and seasoned bread cubes.
Cover tightly with foil and pop into the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another ten minutes or so, until the topping is nicely browned and the sauce bubbling.
We had ours with French Pork Stew, and, while we liked the stew, the leeks were not a hit.
Mebbe it was the frozen leeks, mebbe it was the soy milk, or mebbe I should’ve used Gruyère cheese for the roux.
Or mebbe we just don’t care that much for leeks.