Our family cannot sit down at a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal without cheesy leeks. In fact, barely a Sunday roast goes by without a hot, bubbling dish of crunchy-topped leeks being set on the table.
Where they came from, and how they came to be such a steadfast family tradition is a mystery, but I can only assume that my mother must take some of the credit.
Some people wrinkle their noses at the mention of cheese sauce with a roast, but some people really don’t know what they’re talking about. Of course leks in cheese sauce is hardly groundbreaking, but the addition of gruyere double cream and nutmeg to the sauce, and parmesan, breadcrumbs and almonds on the top makes this dish deserving of it’s place on the Christmas table.
- 600g Leeks, trimmed
- 40g Butter
- 4 tbsp Plain flour
- 3ooml Milk
- 75ml Double cream
- 60g Gruyere, grated
- 80g Strong cheddar, grated
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 3 tbsp Parmesan, grated
- 3 tbsp Breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp Slivered almonds
Pre-heat oven to 200°C and position a shelf in the centre of the oven.
Slice the leeks into 2cm rounds. Place in the top of a steamer and steam for 4 mins. You just want to soften the leeks, not cook them right through.
Tip the leeks into an oven proof dish and leave uncovered to cool. (You can save the water from the steamer to use in your gravy)
While the leeks are cooling, make your cheese sauce.
Put a saucepan over a medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the flour and stir to form a thick paste. Once the paste comes cleanly away from the surface of the pan, remove form the heat and gradually add the milk a little at a time, stirring or whisking to incorporate fully before adding more.
Once all the milk is added, return to the heat and stir continuously until the sauce thickens and you can no longer taste the flour. Stir in the cream, gruyere, cheddar, and nutmeg and stir until the cheese starts to melt. Taste the sauce before seasoning with salt and pepper. You might find the sauce thicker than your usual cheese sauce, but it will draw moisture from the leeks when baking, so don’t panic!
Pour the cheese sauce over the leeks and smooth the top. Top with the grated Parmesan, breadcrumbs and almonds.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crunchy on top. If you’re making these to go with your Christmas dinner (and I really hope you are!), put them in the oven when the meat comes out to rest and they’ll be piping hot and ready to go when the rest of the meal is.
If you want to make ahead, you can refrigerate the dish without the topping on. Refrigerate for up to 3 days before topping and baking.