Recipe of the Week


Prep Time: 1 Hour
Yields: 6 Servings

Although leeks are common in European cooking, often the American shoppers will walk by the vegetable case and ignore this giant scallion-like onion. Although it is most often seen in soups or as a flavoring in many dishes, here in Louisiana, I love to combine it with sweet potatoes to create the perfect Au Gratin side dish casserole. It is the wonderful addition to chicken, pork or even seafood dishes.

3 pounds whole leeks
¾ cup peeled and (¼-inch) diced sweet potatoes
¼ pound unsalted butter
½ cup minced tasso
½ cup diced red onions
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced red bell peppers
½ cup diced yellow bell peppers
2 tbsps minced garlic
4 tbsps flour
¾ cup chicken broth
1½ cups heavy whipping cream
pinch nutmeg
¼ cup chopped parsley
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut green tops from leeks where the bulb reaches the flat leaves. Slice the white and light green portion of the bulb in half lengthwise and slice into ¼-inch piece. Rinse well under cold water to remove any sand or grit. Drain and set aside. Lightly spray a 9” x 9” glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Place diced sweet potatoes in lightly salted boiling water and cook 5–7 minutes. Strain potatoes and set aside to cool. In a 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add tasso and cook 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onions, celery, bell peppers and minced garlic. Sauté 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add leeks and cook 5–10 minutes or until softened. Add flour, stirring well into the mixture. Once flour is incorporated, add chicken broth and heavy whipping cream, blending well to create a thicken cream sauce. Additional stock may be necessary to achieve the proper thickness. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to simmer. Do not scorch. Add nutmeg and parsley and season to taste using salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Add sweet potatoes, blending well into the mixture. Do not mash potatoes. Once thick white sauce is achieved, pour mixture into prepare baking dish. Combine Romano and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle casserole with cheese mixture and top with bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes or until bubbling and lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and let rest 10–12 minutes before serving.

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