potato and leek gratin

by Patricia on January 18, 2010 · 8 comments

potato and leek gratin

While I don’t think men are the only ones who like gratin, I file this one under Man Food. With it’s hearty potato, cheese and cream trifecta, it is something a man will inhale in heaps while a woman looks on jealously as she picks at her own dainty portion. At least, that’s the way it works around here.

I’ve found if you even whisper “gratin”, the men in the room perk up. Mumbles of “I love gratin” fill the air. Meanwhile, the ladies nod in agreement that gratin is good though they reserve their expressions of love for things covered in chocolate. (I don’t want anyone to be upset with me for playing into stereotypes, I’m just going from my own unscientific data).

And so, I give you my first official Man Food: potato and leek gratin.

potatoes leeks

Potatoes with their little eyes peering back at me as I washed and prepared them for their fate… I’m not sure what it is about potatoes and leeks that works so very well, but it is a match made in heaven or some other really nice place. I used to think leeks were icky, but then I realized that the way I had them originally was icky, not the leeks themselves. Leeks are lovely.

potato and leek gratin

Potato and Leek Gratin

(adapted from Onion Potato Gratin on Simply Recipes)

about 1 pound potatoes (I used red, though yukon gold is really nice too… use what you have)
about 1 pound leeks
2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter if you prefer)
1/2 cup whole milk (or cream for added richness)
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded (you can use Gruyere also, I used baby Swiss)
1/4 cup parmesan, grated (I used asiago instead because that’s what I had. But either will work).
salt and pepper, to taste.
(optional) 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set aside an 11×7-inch baking dish.
  2. Peel and clean the potatoes. Slice thinly, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick using a mandolin or sharp knife. Put potato slices into a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are “al dente”… fork tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.
  3. Quarter the leeks lengthwise (leaving the root intact). Clean the leeks. Chop roughly into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces (this doesn’t have to be precise as long as the pieces are bite sized). Saute the leeks in olive oil (or butter… or bacon fat for that matter) until slightly translucent and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Put about half of the potatoes in a layer on the bottom of the 11×7-inch baking dish. Layer about half of the leeks on top of the potatoes, followed by 1/3 of each of the cheeses. Lightly salt and pepper this layer (a pinch or 2 of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper). Create another layer with the remaining potatoes, leeks, and cheeses. Lightly salt and pepper the top.
  5. If using the panko breadcrumbs, sprinkle on top of your layered potatoes and cheese. This will give the top an extra bit of crunch (which I like).
  6. Pour 1/2 cup of milk (or cream) into the dish. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the milk has thickened and the top is golden brown (the potatoes should be completely cooked).
  7. Serve it hot to a man or serve it to a hot man… either way you can’t lose.


  • After you peel potatoes, you can set them in a bowl and cover them with water to avoid dirty potato syndrome (where the potatoes start getting dingy from oxidation).
  • Leeks need to be washed thoroughly because they are usually filled with dirt and sand. The best way I have found to do this is this: cut off the dark green parts and leave the root end intact. Slice the leeks lengthwise up to but not through the root and then rotate the leek 90 degrees and slice it lengthwise again (not through the root). Swish your little leek-broom in a bowl of water or massage it under running water until it is clean. (I believe I learned this by watching Ina Garten on one of her shows though I don’t really remember where I picked it up).
  • Bacon fat would add a richness and smokey flavor if you use it in place of olive oil to saute the leeks.
  • I’ve made this a couple of times using whatever potatoes and cheeses I had on hand and my conclusion is that it’s hard to go wrong with potato and cheese…


1 Judy Anderson June 9, 2014 at 4:25 am

This was excellent. I will add a touch a of garlic next time and a bit more salt but otherwise, fabulous! Thanks for sharing.

2 hopeeternal January 20, 2010 at 4:01 pm

How strange that this recipe should pop into my Inbox this morning when I had already planned to make my (very similar) Leek & Potato Bake for dinner tonight. I use soured cream in mine, which is lovely. For those who want a bit of meat I add a rasher of bacon on the side, plus a grilled tomato.
It’s one of our quick favourites. Took some pictures tonight so it may well appear on my site eventually.
(London, UK)

3 Eliana January 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm

If I had this gratin in front of me I would definitely NOT pick at it. I could inhale it just as quickly if not quicker than a man. hehehehe

4 Laura Bray January 19, 2010 at 9:32 am

Your photos are stunning. I love a good food blog-I’ll be back!
(I’m in Diane’s class with you!)

5 KristiLou January 19, 2010 at 3:09 am

Sounds like “Man Food” could be a regular topic…my poor Irish husband is so potato starved due to my constant weight watching (and his!). You know an Irishman – never met a potato he didn’t like!

6 Patricia January 19, 2010 at 9:38 am

I had the same thought about making Man Food a recurring theme as I wrote this post last night. I’m thinking lots of meat and potatoes… but I’ll have to balance it all out with some salad recipes or something :)

My boyfriend is half Irish and loves potatoes too (I’m more of a rice eater myself, but then I’m half Korean), but I don’t cook them very often. As far as gratins go, this one is pretty light especially if you use milk instead of cream… and Dan loves the leftovers crisped up in a skillet for breakfast.

7 Connie Green January 18, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Hi Patricia –
This potato-and-leek-gratin recipe sounds like good soul food for all to enjoy, including me! I love Agratin potatoes! I’m looking forward to seeing your first cook book!

8 Patricia January 19, 2010 at 9:31 am

Thanks Connie, I’m looking forward to my first cookbook too… we’ll see if it ever happens :)

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