Leeks are the mainstay of the winter veg patch and this seems to have been a relatively decent year for them. Here’s a lovely creamy, cheesy leek gratin that will warm the socks right off you. I sometimes boil a ham on a Sunday to use for sandwiches for school lunches for the week - on Wednesday or Thursday, the remnants generally end up in some class of a pie, tartiflette or gratin. This one is perfect and leeks and bacon are a great combination.
• 125ml veg or chicken stock
• carton double cream
• 150ml milk
• 1 garlic clove , crushed
• 1 bay leaf
• a knob of butter butter , for greasing
• 800g potatoes , peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 leeks , washed and thinly slliced
• 175g sliced ham, chopped
• 85g cheddar, grated
Pour the stock, cream and milk into a small saucepan, add the garlic and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let the flavours infuse while you get on with the rest of the dish. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4/fan 160C. Butter a 2 litre gratin dish well. Mix the potatoes, leeks and ham together in the dish, and spread out in an even layer. Pour over the stock mixture and tuck the bay leaf in the middle. Season and sprinkle with the cheese.
Stand the dish on a baking tray to catch any spills. Loosely cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Test the potatoes with a knife - they should be just beginning to soften. Remove the foil and bake for another 35-45 minutes, spooning some of the stock mixture over every now and again until the potatoes are tender. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Michael Kelly is an author, broadcaster and founder of GIY.
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