Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lettuce Corn Leek Gratin

The English language has some truly horrendous sounding words.  Take for instance, the word "hoist," "or its stunningly appalling relative, "moist." Say those words aloud.  Does one not now feel as though dirt has accumulated on the skin and then drowned in layer of cooking oil?  It is self-evident that the combination of o-i-s-t is awful. Simply awful.

Other dreadful words include:

On the other hand, there are words that are absolutely glorious to say.  Like "gratin."  Gratin is a wonderful word to say.  It sounds so primal, so earthy.  I adore the way that "gr" sound is pushed from your mouth, as though you are blowing a bubble of happiness into the air.  Maybe that is exactly what it is.  Happiness, if one transforms the sonic expression into a dish to be devoured.

I must confess, I'm still not quite sure what exactly a gratin is. I think it is cheesy and goes in the oven?  If so, then this is a gratin.  If indeed that is not the requirement for being a gratin, then lets just use the word because I like it.

For this gratin, I took a head of lettuce, chopped up the leaves, added sliced leeks and frozen corn, and covered them in a cheesy, creamy sauce spiked with just a bit of horseradish and Dijon mustard.  Panko breadcrumbs seasoned with lemon zest litter the top.  A dish that tastes as good as it sounds.

1 head butter lettuce, chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 leek, , washed and sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2-2 cups grated cheddar
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
kosher salt
freshly ground black

1/2-1 cup panko
1 teaspoon lemon zest
sprinkle kosher salt

Heat oven to 375.  In large baking dish (I used my dutch oven), place chopped lettuce, corn, leek, garlic.  Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper.  In a large bowl, whisk together cream, broth, cheddar, horseradish, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.  Pour the cheesy, creamy liquid over the lettuce mixture.  Sprinkle top with panko and use microplane to grate lemon zest over top.

Bake until top is golden brown and the casserole is bubbly and cheese is melted - about 30-45 minutes.


  1. I've never thought of using lettuce in a hot dish like this! Very creative and interesting.

  2. I'm going with your definition of gratin, works for me. Love the sound of this dish, it's like artichoke-spinach dips cousin.

  3. This looks WONDERFUL. I love the idea of using lettuce in this! Bet it's completely delicious (what isn't when it's smothered in cheesy sauce?!) ;)

  4. there are definite amazing and awful words.

    gratin is wonderrrrful! I love this version, so creative, and it looks so delicious!

  5. oh this gratin looks like the perfect way to warm up this cold weather,lovely and delectable dish,thanks :-)

  6. Gratin is a beautiful word. A beautiful word for a beautiful meal!! I've never seen lettuce in one before though! So inventive.

  7. thanks for this beautiful recipe i love it,and I love the idea of using lettuce in this!Bet it's completely delicious.
    diabetic recipes

  8. Its so good, btw thanks for sharing this. If you want to be a private chef in austin contact us now. God Bless!

  9. The gratin looks very satisfying and delicious, Jenn.

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