What I'm cooking and eating

Friday, 1 March 2013

Leeks and ham au gratin

This is an old favourite.  It is traditionally made with chicory (endives) rather than leeks, but for St David's Day, which it is, one wants something in which leeks are a central feature, rather than an "also-ran". 

4 small or 2 large leeks, trimmed. If large, cut in half widthways.
4 slices ham - the nice kind, without added water
250 ml milk
1 heaped tsp plain flour
A very little salt (only a pinch - the ham will add a great deal)
Black pepper
Dry mustard powder
Knob of butter
c 75g grated cheese (cheddar, emmenthal, Parmesan, one of those bought mixes....)

Boil, or (preferably) steam the leeks until tender. When cool enough to handle, wrap each leek or 1/2 leek in a slice of ham.  Place side-by-side in an oven-proof dish.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour, milk and seasoning together and melt the butter in a saucepan.  Pour the milk mixture on to this and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.  Stir in half the grated cheese, then pour this over the ham and leeks.  Top with the rest of the grated cheese.  Bake in a moderate oven for 30-45 minutes.

This is traditionally served with mashed potato.


  1. Marvelous recipe! I'll have to try both ways--with the leeks and then with the endives. Thank you!

    1. It is good. It occurs to me that in the past I've made the sauce with the water in which I have boiled the relevant vegetable rather than with milk; the sauce split slightly in the oven, but tasted very good! I had steamed the leeks, so didn't have any cooking water. Must make it again with endives, it is, in my opinion, even nicer!

  2. *takes note for possible future dishes*

    This sounds delicious! I am a big fan of leeks, and ham for that matter (who isn't?), and my mum used to make this amazing macaroni and ham gratin when I was little, this seems like a lighter and just as good alternative. A little garlic in the sauce is also really delicious!

    1. I hadn't really thought of it like that - I find this dish wants some kind of carbohydrate, and mashed potato is traditional, but it would be interesting to bury the wrapped leeks in macaroni cheese... hmm.....

      I usually make a leek and broccoli macaroni cheese these days - saute the leeks then use that oil as part of the sauce, steamed broccoli and pasta, mix it all together and top with grated cheese.