Creamy Leek and Kale Gratin With Crunchy Brown Butter Bread Crumbs
Published November 15, 2011
Makes 6 servings
This creamy-yet-virtuous gratin of greens is crowned with crunchy homemade bread crumbs tossed with nutty-tasting brown butter. To make bread crumbs, remove the hard crusts from baguette or other rustic bread, cut the bread into cubes, and pulse in a food processor until the crumbs are the size of granola. Make ahead: The gratin can be assembled up to one day in advance. Allow the gratin to cool completely before covering it with plastic and storing it in the refrigerator. Add 10 additional minutes to the baking time.
* 2 10-ounce bunches curly green kale
* 4 tablespoons butter (divided)
* 1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
* 2 medium leeks, light green and white part only, split lengthwise, rinsed well and thinly sliced crosswise
* 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* 2 cups whipping cream
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 1 pinch cayenne pepper
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray an 8-cup shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Bring a Dutch oven or large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, tear the kale leaves away from their tough center rib. Discard the ribs and roughly chop the kale leaves into bite-size pieces. Add the kale to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the kale is tender, 6 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse with cool water, and squeeze the kale to extract all of the water; set aside.
In a small sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the butter turns chestnut brown, about 45 seconds. In a medium bowl, combine the browned butter, bread crumbs and thyme; set aside.
In the Dutch oven used to cook the kale, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until they are tender and translucent, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 45 seconds. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Add the kale, nutmeg, cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. (Easy on the salt; there is plenty in the parmesan cheese.)
Pour the kale mixture into the prepared gratin dish. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and then the bread crumbs. Place the gratin dish on a baking sheet and bake until the sauce is bubbly and the bread crumbs are golden brown, 25 minutes.
From Ivy Manning