For me, comfort food brings to mind the hearth from days of old. When I pull a piping hot casserole out of the oven, I imagine what it must be like to cook in a cast-iron stove set in the center of the house. We have so many offerings at the market right now tailor-made for autumn baking. I melted Jacobs Creamery’s Gouda cheese into lovely leeks and abundant potatoes for a mellow spin on a comfort classic. (If you really like garlic, bump up the recipe to two cloves.) Boiling the potatoes cuts the baking time significantly to turn this into a weeknight side dish, and the potatoes can be boiled a day in advance for even faster same-day preparation.
- 4 ounces Jacobs Creamery Gouda, finely grated*
- 2 Tablespoons butter*
- 4 medium-sized potatoes, (about 1¼ pounds)*
- 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced into¼-inch rings*
- 1 clove garlic, minced*
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1¼ cups half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
* available at the market
- Place potatoes in a pot of boiling water and boil for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the size and type of your potatoes). They should be just tender when tested with a fork. Remove from water and set aside to cool. If you’ve boiled the potatoes in advance, bring them to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease the bottom and sides of an 8×8 glass baking pan or pie plate. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add butter, toss in the leeks and sauté until soft, breaking them gently apart with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the thyme.
- Turn heat to low, add in the garlic and sauté for one minute. Add in the half-and half, the salt and some pepper to taste. Stir well, letting the flavors mix for a few minutes then remove from heat.
- Cut the cooled potatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices and layer half of them in the pan. Using a slotted spoon, remove half of the leeks, spread them over the potatoes and sprinkle half the Gouda on top. Layer remaining potatoes and leeks, pour in the half-and-half liquid evenly over the top and finish with remaining cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are cooked through.
Written by KJ Fields. She writes about people, projects and health from her place in Woodstock.