Leek, Potato, and Bacon Casserole
2 leeks, white and light green (about 6 ounces)
6 slices smoked bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus for brushing the pan
3 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium red potatoes, diced (about 8 ounces or 2 cups)
2 cloves smashed garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme
6 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
6 ounces Jarlsberg Swiss cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven 325 degrees F.
Butter an 8-by-8-inch square glass casserole
dish. Halve the leeks lengthwise, and then cut them crosswise into
half circles (There should be about 1 3/4 cups.). Put the cut leeks
in the basket of a salad spinner, or a colander set in a bowl, and
fill with water. Swish the leeks around to flush out any grit. Lift
the basket from water--don't pour the water off or you will pour any
grit right back over the leeks.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and fry the bacon until
crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined
plate to cool, then crumble. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the pan
drippings, add the butter and leeks, and season with 1/2 teaspoon
salt and some pepper. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a small saucepan with the garlic,
thyme, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and water, to cover. Bring to a
boil over high heat, then drain. Discard the thyme and garlic and
add potatoes to the leeks.
In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs and half-and-half, then
stir in the leek mixture, 1 cup of the cheese, the bacon, and
nutmeg. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Transfer the
mixture to the prepared dish, cover with foil and bake until just
set but still moist, about 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and set
Position a rack in the upper part of the oven and preheat the
broiler. Scatter the remaining 1 cup cheese over the casserole and
broil until the cheese browns, about 3 minutes. Set aside for 5 to
10 minutes before serving. Unmold or serve from baking dish.
Yield: 4 servings