Yukon Gold Potato Leek Gratin

The holidays are in full swing. And if you are anything like me, you are a cooking fool. Well, I am always a cooking fool but during the holiday season, I am a little bit more than usual. How could I not be with all the fabulous harvest all around. Not to mention, baking some of my favorites too - Gingerbread and Persimmon bread

But I wanted to share this decadent rich divine gratin recipe that I've made a number of times after serving it at one of our members-only dinners on the farm. A few members requested I pass along the recipe. I just made it again for our Thanksgiving meal and was reminded I hadn't yet.  So, here I am.

I've been learning so much from cooking our farm dinners. Especially how to pace myself when preparing a meal for a large group of people and how important it is to prep as many dishes a few days in advance to make things go a wee bit smoother the day of the feast. This gratin dish is one of those recipes. Good thing too cause I am the one cooking for almost 30 people a pop! 

I love it though. I love creating the menus and feeding all of you that come again and again to our table. I’ve always said, if I were to open a restaurant I would want it to be like a 12 seat one so that I could still keep the intimacy and authentic experience I crave when I go out to dine. I recently realized that this is kinda what we are creating without even intending to.  And all of you that come each month are  my lovely guenia pigs, ahem, taste testers, I mean, dinner guests!!!

The best part is that you come back for more, excitedly bring friends to experience a meal at Noci and sell out our gatherings each month. Which means you like my cooking! Phew.

Many of you have inquired about my self proclaimed Head Bitch title I jokingly gave to myself. Some of you enjoy the humor of it, while some mildly offended by it. Here’s how it came to be: it all started when my husband asked what title I wanted printed on my business cards. 

He wanted it to say Head Chef but I truthfully felt I had no business (or confidence) or real experience to call myself such a title. It also sounded to precious, too stuffy but that’s neither here nor there. I responded (jokingly) with Head Bitch and Farmers Wife. He sent the mock up card back to me and I laughed and we printed. Most people I hand my card to does the same, which makes me smile all over again. Life is meant to take the piss and have a good chuckle about it. My new business cards represented that completely to me.

However, food is my department here at Noci. My husband is designing the look of Noci and I am designing and deciding the flavors of Noci. What seeds to plants in the ground, what products to eventually sell and, currently, what meals to create. And so, now after some experience of cooking consistanly for larger crowds than I ever have before, I am confidently steeping into the idea of taking on the title of Head Chef. I still, nevertheless, like the ring of Head Bitch better though. 

Yukon Gold Potato Leek Gratin

2 TB unsalted butter, more for greasing the pan
2 large leeks, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 thyme sprigs
1 cup heavy cream
1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
¾ cup Gruyère, grated

Heat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 2-quart gratin dish. 
Wash the leeks to remove any grit and slice thinly crosswise.

Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the potatoes into rounds, 1/8-inch thick. Toss with 3/4 tsp sea salt and 1/4 tsp black  pepper. Layer the rounds in the gratin dish.

Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, remaining salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until leeks are tender and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Scatter some of the leeks on the bottom of dish, layer some of the potato rounds, sprinkle some Gruyère cheese, then repeat until no more leeks or potatoes - reserving some cheese to sprinkle on top. 

Add cream, garlic and thyme sprigs to the skillet, scraping up browned bits of leeks from the bottom of the pan. Simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove thyme and stir in nutmeg.

Pour the cream over the leeks and potatoes and top with the extra Gruyère. Cover with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for about 60 minutes, uncover and bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Let cool slightly before serving. 

*note: this dish gets even better the next day. Reheat in 375 oven for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbling.