Leeks are one of the most underrated vegetables out there. A larger, milder version of the scallion, they are easily adaptable to pies, casseroles, soups, and stews, and never overpower a dish. I’ve used them in a killer potato-leek soup, and have had them in a chicken-leek pie at an authentic English pub. Both times I came to realize just how flexible this vegetable is. Last night it was time to try them again, in something new. I found a potato-leek gratin recipe over at the New York Times and gave it a shot.
Preparation took about a half hour because of a small delay (more on that in a bit) and cooking time was an hour. The result was a creamy, velvety, gratin that was out of this world. The potatoes stayed firm. The cream, butter, and cheese mixture solidified just enough to be able to neatly cut through it without falling apart, but still loose so it oozed out of the different layers. The sliced leeks laid across the top of the potatoes after being sautéed in butter until golden brown. This is a rich dish, and not particularly waistline friendly.
It was during the cutting of these potatoes on a mandolin that I encountered a small problem: I actually incurred a pretty bad slice to the tip of my finger. A potato had gotten stuck and I gave it a little bit of force to get it through the slot. I guess I pushed too hard, because my finger went right into the blade. I lost a good amount of blood but handled it like a pro. I didn’t spill a drop on any of the ingredients and took a few minutes to wrap it in gauze so I could keep on cooking. I finished the dish and was glad no hospital visit was [yet] required. I was able to enjoy my potatoes. I would have been rather angry if I went through all that trouble for nothing. This potato-leek gratin was not made in vain. You should definitely give it a try…just watch your fingers!