Leek Gratin

Maybe I am being a bit old fashioned as to the Gratin. Yes, I know all about the modern Nouvelle Cuisine and the various videos but I am following my heart and am still cooking dishes I used to eat when I was much younger in various cosmopolitan cities such as Monte Carlo, Beirut, Lausanne. These dishes are now prepared with a twist by adding some bacon or a touch of Porcini mushrooms....

To make a leek gratin we will need:

The filling:

  • 1.5 kg of leeks (the white part) well washed, and sliced.

  • 1/4 cup of good first grade olive oil.
  • A knob of fresh butter.
  • 4 rashers of bacon well chopped and slightly fried.

  • Salt, pepper and some garlic powder to taste.
  • A round 28 cm baking dish.
  • Heat oil in a large pan or wok and stir fry until the leek is completely soft. 
  • Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
  • Fill baking dish and press to compact.
The Bechamel Sauce:

Did you know that Bechamel sauce is one of 5 basic sauces in French Cuisine? Well it is.

  • 75 gr of good quality fresh butter.
  • 75 gr of all purpose flour.
  • Milk enough for your dish and to have the required viscosity.
  • Salt and white pepper to taste.
  • Nutmeg to taste. Start by adding a little, wait a few minutes and taste.
  • Melt butter very slowly on low heat.
  • When butter is melted add flour.
  • Start whisking till all flour is well mixed with the butter to form a smooth paste.
  • Keep whisking for about three minutes to cook the flour so that the Bechamel does not end up tasting of raw flour.
  • Start adding the cold milk and whisking quickly making sure there is no balling. If there is do not worry keep adding the cold milk and whisking.
  • At this point there really is no rule. It takes experience to see the quantity and thickness of the bechamel. 
  • Stop adding the milk when the required thickness is obtained. Keep whisking until the Bechamel looks and tastes the way you want.
  • As a rule of thumb it must not be too thick.
Putting the Gratin together.
  • Brush some fresh butter on the bottom and sides of the baking dish.
  • Fill your baking dish with the filling and press the whole a little to compact it. With your clean finger make holes in the surface to receive Bechamel as well.
  • Pour the Bechamel slowly to cover the whole surface including the holes.
  • Grind some Szechuan pepper on the surface for extra aroma.

  • Put some dollops of butter around the surface for colour during baking.

  • Bake at 180 degrees static temperature on the before highest level of your oven. Of course you know your oven so I let you be the judge of that. We need the Bechamel to cook and take a nice colour, the leek is already cooked.
  • When you are satisfied take out from oven and let cool to tepid. 
  • Serve as a first dish in a sit down dinner or as a side dish in a buffet. 


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