TGIFOOD

LEEKS + CARAMEL

What’s cooking today: Leek, potato and bacon bake

Tony Jackman’s leek, potato and bacon bake with caramelised leeks. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Leeks have a subtle flavour that pairs well with potato and bacon in this warming bake.

Leeks pair well with cheese so are ideal for being gratinated or used as a key ingredient in a vegetable tart or pie with cheese and, say, courgettes. They can also be served cold (cooked and cooled) in a vinaigrette. (This recipe also pairs well with this column about the history and lore of leeks.)

Here’s another way I cook them: in a leek, bacon and potato bake, topped with caramelised leek swirls.

Ingredients

8 leeks

200 g back bacon, diced

2 Tbsp butter

About 8 fairly large potatoes, peeled

700 ml chicken stock

400 ml cream

8 to 10 thyme sprigs

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

2 heaped tsp cornflour dissolved in 3 or 4 Tbsp cold milk

Method

Grease a deep oven dish and preheat the oven to 220℃.

Slice the root ends off the leeks. Cut away the green parts at the other end, and make two diagonal cross-slits in the white part of that end. Rinse the whole leeks under running water, then rub the cut parts under the water, and dry them. Slice the leeks fairly thinly, about 3 mm thick.

Peel the potatoes and slice them into thin scallops (rounds), about 0.3 cm thick.

Dice the bacon and fry it in a little olive oil in a frying pan. Remove the bacon dice to a side bowl.

Add the butter to the bacon fat in the pan and let it melt. Select the neatest rounds of leek and carefully lay them in the fat to simmer very gently until caramelised on the underside. Put the pan aside.

Lay out a layer of potato scallops at the bottom of the greased oven dish. Sprinkle raw sliced leeks and bacon bits over them and season with salt and pepper. Place a few thyme sprigs here and there.

Repeat all these layers until everything is used up (potato, leeks, bacon, salt, pepper, thyme).

Dissolve the cornflour in milk by stirring vigorously with a spoon (I use a ramekin and a teaspoon). Combine the chicken stock and cream in a jug, stir, then stir in the dissolved cornflour. Pour this into the dish.

Finally, place the caramelised leek rings over the top, browned side up. Using two spoons or forks, or a spoon and a fork, makes this easy to achieve.

Bake in the preheated 220℃ oven for about 90 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, the cooking stock has thickened, and the rounds of leek are gleaming prettily on top. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

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