A few springs ago, in a lovely little San Francisco kitchen, my friend Kathy made a dinner for 10 people with one trip to the farmers market and about 3 pans. Everything she made that night was delicious but it was a dish of leeks braised in cream that captivated me. After braising away in that thickened, bubbly cream, the leeks melted into a sweeter, richer version of themselves. A true transformation and a shining expression of decadent simplicity. I think about that dish often.
Decadent simplicity shows up when there's a seamless blend of ease, richness, and a bit of the elemental. Cooking a few seasonal vegetables in cream in honor of spring meets those requirements so that's how I want you to think about this potato fennel gratin. Full of decadent simplicity and done in the style of springtime.
If you're hanging out and cooking with me this Thursday, March 31 at 7:00 pm we'll be preparing this recipe together. I've made this quite a few times as of late and I'm truly looking forward to making it again. (Need to register? Click here)
My hope is that this recipe finds its way to your kitchen while spring has a few more chilly days in store. If your holiday table is seeking a new vegetable, consider this gratin, it has four! And if you are craving some decadent simplicity — something we all require from time to time, this dish should satisfy. It makes for some really great leftovers as well.
Take care and talk soon,
Creamy Spring Potato Fennel Gratin
Start to finish: 1 hour
Serves 6 to 8
What You'll Need
1 1/2 lb. Yukon potatoes, sliced into wedges, lengthwise
1 large fennel bulb, fronds removed and reserved (about 12-16 oz)
1-2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 leek, greens trimmed, halved, rinsed and cut into 1/2 -inch half moons
4 garlic cloves, sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Fresh cracked black pepper
12 jar marinated artichoke heart quarters, drained
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 heaping cup fresh peas or thawed frozen peas
½ cup panko
¼ cup parmesan, pecorino, or romano cheese
Himalayan salt/fine sea salt
How to Make it
Bring a large pot of generously salted ( 1 Tbsp. kosher salt) water to boiling. Add the potatoes, fennel and bay leaves. Cover and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, place the lid slightly askew and boil for 10 minutes. The potatoes and fennel should not be mushy but easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Meanwhile, heat an oven-safe skillet over low heat. Add the butter and warm until melted. Add the leeks, garlic, thyme, black pepper, and a pinch of sea salt. Sauté 10 minutes until leeks are softened and tender but not browned. Add the potatoes, fennel, artichoke hearts, cream, and salt. Gently toss together until fully coated. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
Cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake 25 minutes or until the cream is bubbling and potatoes and fennel are very tender but not falling apart. Remove the skillet from the oven. Add the peas and gently stir to combine. Arrange into a single layer. Toss together the panko and cheese with a drizzle of olive oil until coated. Sprinkle over the cheese mixture. Return the skillet to the oven. Broil 6 to 8 minutes or until the panko is deep golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes. Chop the reserved fennel fronds. Sprinkle over gratin. Eat while hot.
Your Shopping List
- Olive Oil
- Unsalted butter
- 12oz jar marinated artichoke heart quarters
Spices & Seasoning
- Bay leaves
- kosher salt
- Himalayan salt/sea salt
- Pint of heavy cream (16oz)
- Parmesan, pecorino, or romano cheese
- 1 1/2 lb. Yukon potatoes
- 1 large fennel bulb (16 oz)
- 1 leek
- Head of garlic
- Fresh thyme
- 1/2 lb fresh peas or 1 bag thawed frozen peas