Ham leek and cheese gratin
I always seem to let our leeks run to seed, by which time they are unusable. This year I'm making an effort to use them profusely. I've even deliberately run out of onions and just put a sign in the onion bowl: "USE LEEKS!"
This was very tasty but one problem was the whole leeks. Although it looks nice, once soft they are very difficult to cut - in future I will slice them thinly and probably not par-boil first. 20 seconds in the microwave would be enough.
- 4 medium to small leeks, liberally trimmed, peeled and cleaned
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of fresh thyme leaves
- 150g cooked ham - the thinner the better, thick ham does not roll well!
- 100g Cheddar cheese for the cheese sauce
- ¾ pint of milk [354 ml]
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 4 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
- 25g Cheddar cheese to top
- 25g crumbled blue cheese (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F - gas 4), [fan oven 160° C & reduce cooking time by 10 mins per hour]
- Ensure the leeks are properly cleaned
- I've used small gratin dishes so had to halve them but you can leave them whole
- Boil the leeks in lightly salted water for about 8 minutes or until softened - they can also be microwaved, see below.
- Drain well.
- Meanwhile, to make the cheese sauce, melt the butter with a pinch of black pepper and stir in the flour once melted.
- Whisk the milk in and bring to a simmer, don't boil. Once simmering, whisk well, add 100 g of the Cheddar and once melted, remove from the heat.
- Roll the leeks in the cooked ham and lay in a lightly oiled gratin dish or shallow casserole.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the leeks.
- If you have the time, chilling the mixture in the gratin dishes (as pictured), solidifies the cheese sauce making it easier to add the topping, which has a tendency to sink into the hot sauce.
- Mix the breadcrumbs and any cheese you are using for the topping in a bowl and crumble well, maybe add a pinch of black pepper.
- Pour this mixture over the top and bake uncovered at the top of the oven at 180° C
A few tomatoes is all this dish needs to finish it off.
You could include a little pasta to stretch this dish even further.
Lay them on a plate and microwave on full power for 2 minutes.full power.
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