Although I lived in Louisville only a few short months, some of my favorite food memories were made there. From a dope barbecue joint to this complete dive that makes the most amazing duck fat fries, that city’s food scene stole my heart.
That’s also when I started to get more serious about baking and candy making. So I sought out some inspiration at local chocolatier Ghyslain.
The one near my house featured a couple of cases filled with truffles, cakes, macarons, handpainted chocolates and other French pastries. They were all beautiful and, of course, delicious.
In addition, the shop offered some light savory fare, including crepes and a damn fine French dip sandwich. But the leek scalloped potatoes, that’s what kept me coming back.
The dish stood out for its delicate onion and peppery notes, as well as the cream sauce in which the potatoes bathed. Seriously, it’s so good, I couldn’t help but try to replicate it.
Now, at this point you’re probably thinking, “But, Larrisa, your post says au gratin potatoes.” Yes, yes it does. I have a weakness for cheesy potatoes. And when you can combine the best of both worlds, you should.
The all-star of this recipe if you haven’t guessed already is the leek. I’ve written about them before and I often use them in my recipes because I love how much flavor you can get out of them without getting into that bitter taste some onions carry. They go into this dish raw, and while they do cook down, they don’t become sweet, so the subtle onion flavor really shines through.
And let’s be honest, the loads of cheddar cheese doesn’t hurt either.
LEEK POTATO AU GRATIN
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: 45 minutes. Serves: 4
3-5 russet potatoes
1 leek stalk
3 cloves or 3 teaspoons garlic
12 ounces heavy cream
6 ounces cheddar cheese
3 teaspoons pepper
Note: I made this recipe for a smaller casserole dish (9 x 6 inches) but you can easily go much bigger and increase the recipe by half or double. And I used Kraft bacon cheddar cheese to infuse some smoky flavor.
1. Peel the potatoes, then cut them into thin slices. I used a mandolin to make them all the same width and save time. Rinse in cool water and pat dry.
2. Wash the leek and pat it dry. Cut off the top or dark green part of the stalk and then chop roughly to fit into a food processor. Add in garlic and pulse until you have a coarse mix.
3. Begin layering. Start with the potatoes, overlapping them slightly as you place them around the edges of the dish and work your way in. Spread the leek-garlic paste on top of the potatoes, then sprinkle 1 teaspoon of pepper over that. Pour about 1/2 cup of the heavy cream over that and then top with about 1/2 cup of cheese.
4. Repeat, creating three layers of potatoes and ending with the cheese on top.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a knife slides easily through all layers of the potatoes.
Rest for a few minutes, then serve.