Leek, Ham and Cheese Bake

This post is another homage to dear Mummy Swan.  She discovered this recipe in the Times a few weeks ago and has been telling us how delicious it is ever since.  I have to admit, we were slightly sceptical.  It didn’t really sound like a ‘real dinner’ to us, but last week we decided to see what the fuss was about (we’re adventurous like that, you see).  I filled the fridge with Sauvignon and Jennie came for dinner.  She was supposed to bring ingredients for spiced plum and ginger crumble but was apparently too hungover (tut tut).  This will be on the blog in the not too distant future, I’m told.

We had it as a main course, but I also think it would go really well with meat or fish as a veg side dish – maybe in place of cauliflower cheese.

To serve four, generously or with leftovers, you will need:

6 leeks, trimmed and cut into thirds

enough Wiltshire ham to wrap around your leeks – we got 10 slices but we were a bit stretched by the end

sauce flour* (this is my secret weapon from Sainsbury’s and the only way I can make white sauce without adding a tonne of cornflour to thicken it)

Milk

A lot of cheese (about 200g)

More cheese (about 100g)

3 tsp Dijon mustard

Breadcrumbs

*if you can make white sauce the normal way (show off) then feel free.

What to do:

1.  Preheat your oven to 200 then start by steaming your leeks until they’re nice and soft.

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2.  Wrap each leek portion in a slice of ham and arrange semi-attractively into an ovenproof dish.

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3.  Make white sauce, following the instructions on your sauce flour if that’s what you’re using. Anyone who’s made this knows that it’s practically impossible to make the correct amount but aim for about 600ml. If in doubt, make more.  We’d rather risk having leftovers (it freezes, did ya know?) then being stingy on sauce. Go saucy or go home, that’s our motto.

4.  Add the mustard to your sauce along with a small mountain of grated cheddar and a generous twist of black pepper. Mummy is far more reserved with the cheese than us but she wasn’t there to tell us off.

5.  Once you have the desired amount of cheesy mustardy sauce, pour it over your leeky, hammy goodness. If you’re feeling rebellious then add another layer of cheese.

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6.  To make your crunchy topping, blitz up the crust of a loaf of wholemeal bread with YET MORE grated cheddar. Once it’s all turned into breadcrumbs then sprinkle this over the top of your bake. Add a twist of black pepper then bung it in the oven for about 20-30mins.

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7.  If you think about it really, really hard, this is like a healthy version of Mac n Cheese. If you disagree then you have to think harder. Anyway, we can see what all the fuss is about now – thanks Mum! This is proper good comfort food, made even better with the lashings of wine and garlic bread we also had with it.

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