Leek Gratin - Gratin de Poireaux
The sweet onion flavour of leeks, slow-cooked with cream and cheese, is a classic in country kitchens. As an entrée, leeks are a year-round substitute for the short-season asparagus, aillets (green garlic), and other delicacies.
- 6 large leeks
- 1 tablespoon sweet butter
- 1 cup (8 f1 oz/240 ml) crème fraîche
- 1 cup (4 oz/115 g) Gruyère or Emmenthaler cheese
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Trim the roots and green tops off the leeks. (Save the greens for soup.) Slice the leeks lengthwise to within 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the root end.
Wash well under running water. Place them in a saucepan and cover with water. Add salt, cover, and bring to a rolling boil for 15 minutes.
Drain the leeks well, pressing excess water out with a cloth or a wooden spoon. Cut the leeks in half crosswise.
Butter an ovenproof pan or casserole and place the leeks in one layer.
Spoon the crème fraîche over the leeks and sprinkle with the cheese. Add salt and pepper and grate a dusting of fresh nutmeg over the surface. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden on top. Serve bubbling hot from the oven.
Note: The addition of a thin slice of ham wrapped around each leek piece before it is placed in the pan is another delicious Gascon touch.
From A Culinary Journey in Gascony by Kate Hill