November 26, 2014

Potato Leek Gratin: More Than the Sum of Its Parts

Cooking is often like alchemy: ordinary ingredients become magically transformed into heavenly tastes. The first time I made this recipe, a Potato Leek Gratin from the New York Times, I thought it was so delicious that I ate nearly half of a recipe for 6 people. I had been searching for a recipe with potatoes and leeks, and couldn't have been more pleased with this one. I realize that I'm sharing it a little late for inclusion in Thanksgiving dinner, but it's not difficult to prepare and will work for a special or everyday dinner. 

Potatoes in dish

2 Tbs unsalted butter, plus more to grease the dish
2 large leeks (I used 4 small ones) trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 1/2 lbs peeled Yukon Gold potatoes (I used a similar variety that I grow: Carola)
1 teas salt
1/2 teas pepper
2 thyme sprigs
1 cup heavy cream
1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teas ground nutmeg
3/4 cup Gruyere, grated (I used cheddar)

1.Preheat over to 350º. Butter a 2 quart gratin dish (I didn't have a large enough dish so used a souffle dish, which meant the potatoes were piled more thickly so got less crispy.) Wash leeks to remove any dirt and slice thinly.

2. Using a sharp knife or mandoline (I used a very thin, 2mm, blade with my food processor, which made the slicing easy work) slice potatoes 1/8 inch thick. Toss them with 3/4 teas salt and 1/4 teas pepper. Layer the potatoes in a gratin dish.

Leeks added to the dish

3. Melt the 2 Tbs butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, the rest of the salt and pepper, and the thyme. Cook, stirring, until the leeks are tender and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Discard thyme and place leeks over the potatoes.

4. Add cream, garlic, and bay leaf to the skillet, scraping up any bits of leeks sticking to the pan. Simmer gently 5 minutes, stir in nutmeg.

5. Pour the cream over the leeks and potatoes. (there's nothing in the recipe to suggest removing the bay leaf, but I remove it.) Top with the cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 -20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Cool a bit before serving.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Although there's much that's wrong with the world today, I know that I have so much to be thankful for, and I hope that you do too. 


  1. Thanks for the recipe!!! This looks simple and delicious! (And I'll try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting!)

  2. This sounds so good. My family would faint if the good ole mashed potatoes weren't on the Thanksgving table. I will certainly try this recipe later. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  3. Thanks, Lisa and Diane, for the comments; I hope you like it if you try it.
    I know about the desire for traditional foods on Thanksgiving, Lisa; it would be near sacrilege to cook this recipe.

  4. Thank you Altoon. A great variation on an old theme! Happy turkey day to you!

  5. You're very welcome, KOTA and Connie.

  6. I made this tonight -- delicious, even with several possibly sacrilegious adjustments and substitutions, on account of poor planning and laziness.... Thanks --

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this dish, Stuart, however amended.