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Creamed leeks and garlic are the perfect complement to sweet potatoes in this wholesome casserole. Currants or prunes and fresh thyme give added sweetness and depth.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces, and soaked in cold water to cover
  • 2 tablespoons whole unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup garlic, minced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup dried currants or diced pitted prunes
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes or garnet yams, peeled
  • 1-1/4 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and reserved in cold water

Preparation:

Lift the leeks from the water in which they're soaking so any sand remains in the water. Drain the leeks in a colander. Melt the butter and olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat and stir in the leeks, and garlic. Cover and lower the heat. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the currants or prunes, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a heavy-bottomed 5-quart casserole. Using a Japanese mandoline or a sharp knife, slice the sweet potatoes 1/4 inch thick. Do the same with the Idaho potatoes. Beginning with Idaho potatoes, arrange a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the casserole. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then spoon 2 tablespoons of leek cream over the potatoes. Repeat with sweet potatoes: layer, season, and spoon leek cream over them. Continue in this way, alternating Idaho and sweet potatoes, until all are used. With your hand, or a rubber spatula, press down firmly on the potatoes. Drizzle the remaining leek cream over the top layer. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until the gratin is bubbling around the edges and a knife slides into it easily. Remove to a warm place and let rest for 15 minutes.

Slice the gratin into wedges or squares and serve. It may be prepared ahead and reheated in a 300-degree F. oven.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Source: Not Afraid of Flavor : Recipes from Magnolia Grill by Ben & Karen Barker (University of North Carolina Press)
Reprinted with permission.

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