Paul Kahan’s Creamy Leek Gratin with Breadcrumbs and Bacon
Serves 6 as a side dish
This recipe easily doubles. Simply cook leeks in a heavy roasting pan over 2 burners (or in 2 batches in the large skillet) and use a large skillet to cook breadcrumbs and bacon. Bake in a 13- by 9-inch pan.
2 generous pounds leeks
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup each: heavy cream and grated Gruyere cheese
1 tablespoon each: chopped fresh dill and parsley
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into small dice
1 cup fresh bread crumbs from a dense French-style loaf
1 garlic clove, crushed
Using scissors, clip the leeks’ dark outer leaves. Remove root ends, quarter leeks lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Soak leeks in 2 changes of water to remove grit; drain well.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks; saute, seasoning with salt and pepper, until tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl and mix in cream, cheese, dill, and parsley. Wipe out skillet and return to burner over medium-low heat. Add bacon and fry until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to paper towels with a slotted spoon to drain and then stir into leeks. Turn leek mixture into a 9-inch pie plate or similar size pan.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Toss remaining oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Add to skillet and toast until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over leeks. Bake until bubbly and golden, 12 to15 minutes. Serve.
To Lighten: Omit bacon, cream, and cheese. Increase leeks to a generous 2 1/2 pounds and cook as in Creamy Leek Gratin with Breadcrumbs and Bacon. Remove 1 cup of the leeks and puree with 1/4 cup each: 0% plain Greek yogurt and skim milk; stir into sautéed leeks. Continue with recipe sprinkling leeks with breadcrumbs and baking.