Potato, Fennel and Leek Gratin

Just in case you couldn't tell which part of the meal was the tators!
Easter Dinner in all it's glory!

Really he still loves me most, but James loved this Potato Fennel and Leek Gratin last week. You know you've got a hit on your hands when hours later he makes the yummy sounds and tells me how good those potatoes were! I made it Sunday for Easter dinner after reading about a similar gratin in a magazine a few weeks ago. As a kid my mom used to make "Ahg Rotten Potatoes" and we loved them. It was usually summertime, and she'd make them in her heavy duty roaster pan. It had loads of bacon, and Velveeta in it. We loved those tators! It usually meant company was coming over to swim in our backyard and we were going to eat at the picnic table in the back yard. My childhood is all coming back! I loved those warm summer nights.

I love the word Gratin. It sounds so formal and gourmet, but really it's not. Just layers of potatoes, or any other veggie out there. You could layer it with tons of cheese, but really that's not necessary. I used about 1/2 cup of Blue Cheese in my recipe and it had plenty of goodness and tasted lovely. I don't really love ooehy-gooey cheesiness though so take that into account. You might want to add a ton of melty cheese. It's up to you. I used a mixture of potatoes. I used Yukon Golds and some yellow Sweet Potatoes. I think next time I'd use some yams for a little color and a different texture. It would be super pretty and tasty. Give a Gratin a try. I may try a Cauliflower one next. It may be a new fave.

Potato, Fennel, and Leek Gratin

1 head of fennel or Anise (you cut off the frilly fronds, and just chop up the bulb. It smells like licorice, but when it's cooked it mellows out.)
1 large leek (white and light green parts only. A leek looks like a giant green onion. I cut it into slices.)
drizzle of Olive Oil or butter

In a saute pan, cook the fennel and leek until softened. About 5-7 mins. While the veggies are cooking I slice about 4 peeled waxy type potatoes. I used Yukon Gold because that's what I had. I also sliced about 3 Sweet Potatoes. The color of the different potatoes wasn't much different, but the texture and taste is.

In a large mixing bowl combine sliced potatoes, your sauteed veggies, a little salt and pepper and a handful of your favorite cheese. I used blue cheese, but Goat Cheese or grated Swiss or Parmesan or a combination of any of these would be great. I also added a pinch of nutmeg. Mix everything together until combined.

Pour into a greased 9x13 inch casserole pan and press the potatoes down. Pour 1 c. of milk, half and half, evaporated milk, or cream over the potatoes. Cover with tinfoil and bake at 400'F for 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender. I made some homemade breadcrumbs with some garlic croutons and topped the potatoes with them the last 15 minutes of baking. Serve with something yummy. We had them with roasted veggies, and a Honey Baked Ham. Delish!!

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