Saturday, October 25, 2008

Leek, Potato and Blue Cheese Bake

Think vegetarian, anglicised Tartiflette. Or a cross between leek and potato soup and potato Dauphinoise. To be specific, one softens sliced potatoes in milk or cream, starts some leeks and mushrooms off in a frying pan, and then layers them both in an ovenproof dish with blue cheese and bakes the lot in a hot oven until golden on top. You could use whatever strong blue cheese you have - I made it with Danish Blue cheese, but Stilton would be just as good. It is substantial enough to eat as dinner in it's entirety (that's exactly what I did last night) or serve as a side dish for a change. I'd probably omit the mushroom if it was to be just an accompaniment, but only because I personally don't tend to eat mushrooms as a vegetable.

For one 1.5 litre/3 pint ovenproof serving dish-full:
  • 750-800g peeled floury potatoes
  • 50g (3 tablespoons plus a bit) butter
  • 1 pint whole milk (or a mix of milk and cream is you want to make it even richer)
  • 2 long trimmed leeks (3 if they are rather stubby)
  • 2 large chestnut or portobello mushrooms
  • 100g strong blue cheese (e.g. Danish Blue or mature Stilton)

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C. Slice the peeled potatoes about 5mm thick. Heat a tablespoon of the butter in a large, deep saucepan, add the potatoes, stir to coat in the butter, then add the milk or cream. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and keep at a good simmer. Stir occasionally to make sure no potatoes are sticking to the bottom, but not too frequently or vigorously as you don't want to break up the potato slices. Meanwhile, slice the leeks into rounds of about 5mm and chop the mushrooms in half and then slice each half thinly. Heat the remaining butter in a large frying pan and add the leeks and mushrooms when it starts to bubble. Fry on a medium heat until the leek is softened, but not browning. Set aside. Grease the ovenproof dish with the remaining butter. Keep simmering the potatoes until they are almost soft in the middle (not quite cooked, but pretty close) then pour about half of them into the greased dish. Cover with the leek and mushroom mixture. Crumble half of the cheese over this, then add the remaining potatoes and sauce. Crumble over the rest of the cheese then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden on top, and totally soft throughout. Leave until it stops bubbling before serving in bowls, preferably with a glass of red wine. Mmmmm....

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