Baked Leeks with Bread Crumbs

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. minced shallots
  • 6 to 8 leeks, about 2-3 lb. total, white and light green portions, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 cups milk, plus more as needed
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat an oven to 400°F. In a fry pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the shallots, leeks, 1/2 tsp. of the salt and 1/2 tsp. of the white pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the leeks are translucent and very soft, about 15 minutes. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the 2 cups milk until small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Cover and remove from the heat. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 3 Tbs. of the butter. Remove from the heat and whisk in the flour, the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. white pepper and the cayenne. Set the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and simmer, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, increase the heat; if it is too thick, whisk in a little more milk. Then stir in the leek mixture. Pour the mixture into a baking dish or a gratin dish. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese and bread crumbs, then dot with the remaining 1 Tbs. butter. Bake until the cheese and bread crumbs are golden and the gratin is bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve

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