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Rich Scalloped Potatoes

For many of us, it is unthinkable to eat baked ham without a huge scoop of creamy, cheesy scalloped potatoes alongside. Most old family recipes call for Cheddar cheese and milk, thickened with a sprinkling of flour, but this updated version takes it to a new level, with rich cream, nutty Gruyère and meltingly tender leeks.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chopped leeks, white and pale green parts
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3 3/4 lbs. baking potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 3 cups heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Mix together the salt and pepper. Peel the potatoes and thinly slice into rounds. Spread one-third of the potatoes in an even layer in the prepared baking dish and season with about one-fourth of the salt mixture. Top with one-third of the Gruyère and half of the leeks and season with about one-third of the remaining salt mixture. Top with half of the remaining potato slices, half of the remaining Gruyère and the rest of the leeks, seasoning with half of the remaining salt mixture as you go. Finish with the remaining potatoes and Gruyère and season with the remaining salt mixture.

In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium-high heat until it is simmering. Pour the hot cream evenly over the potatoes. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue baking until the potatoes are tender, coated with a creamy sauce and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes longer. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then serve hot. Serves 8.

Variation: For the classic all-American version of scalloped potatoes, omit the leeks and substitute sharp white Cheddar cheese for the Gruyère and whole milk for the cream. As you add the potatoes, sprinkle each layer with 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour, for a total of 3 Tbs.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).