If I could only eat one cheese for the rest of my life, it would have to be Gruyère. Earthy, sharp, and complex, an aged Gruyère is the perfect addition to a nice macaroni and cheese, a gourmet panini, a creamy soup, or showcased in a fresh spinach salad. It’s also ideal for one of Brendan’s very favorite dishes: potato gratin.
Potatoes gratiné, or “scalloped potatoes” as Americans know them, are made of up layers of cheese and thinly-sliced potatoes, covered in cream. The starch released from the potatoes combines with the milk and cheese to make a custard-like filling that cushions the tender potato slices in a bed of yum. It’s a dish that’s already impossible to dislike, but use a sharp Gruyère, sautéed leeks, and some fresh thyme, and you raise the experience to a whole new level. Just be sure you serve everyone a piece that includes some of the crispy cheese “skin” that forms over the top — it’s everyone’s favorite part.
Gruyère Leek & Potato Gratin Recipe
- 1 dozen small red or white potatoes
- 2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
- 3 leeks, white and light green parts only
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 cups whole milk or cream
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 350°F, and lightly grease a 9×9 baking dish. Peel potatoes and slice thinly. Trim roots off the leeks and slice just the white and light green parts, then roughly chop them. Sauté over medium heat in olive oil, just until tender but not until browned. Meanwhile, heat milk in a large saucepan over low heat, with whole garlic cloves and sprig of thyme, only until bubbles begin to form at the outsides. Immediately turn off and remove from heat. Layer 1/3 of potatoes, 1/3 of leeks, and 1/3 of cheese, then sprinkle fresh thyme leaves over. Repeat layers twice more, then remove garlic and thyme sprigs from milk, and pour over the layers. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, then remove foil and continue baking another 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Like many casseroles, this just gets better with thyme… ahem, I mean time. If you have a larger household, are serving company, or just want extra leftovers, make a batch twice as large in a 9×13 pan. But before you decide to keep potato-leek gratin in the house, be warned: this stuff is addictive.