Barbara Kafka

Leek Gratin

(from Vegetable Love, page 387) 

Salt can make or break this lovely side dish. I always taste my ham and cheese before adding them to the gratin. If either is particularly salty, I leave out the extra salt all together.  

1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 ounces thinly sliced Serrano, prosciutto or Smithfield ham, trimmed and cut into slivers (about ½ cup)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Gruyère cheese
7 to 9 medium leeks, trimmed, cleaned, cut across into 1/8-inch pieces and boiled or steamed (see Cook's Guide, page 600;  about 2½ cups cooked)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
¾ cup heavy cream

Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Grease a 9-inch glass pie plate with the butter.

Sprinkle half of the ham and 1 tablespoon of cheese over the bottom of the pie plate. Lay out the leeks evenly in the plate. Cover with the remaining ham and sprinkle with the salt. Pour the heavy cream over leeks. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, until brown and bubbling well.

Serves 4 to 5 as a side dish.

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