Saturday, July 14, 2012

Gratin of Eggs, Leeks, Bacon, and St. Andre Cheese

I love eating breakfast for supper.  While it's completely ordinary around here, it still feels special.  And while Gratin of Eggs, Leeks, Bacon, and St. Andre Cheese would be lovely at breakfast, it made for a fabulous dinner.

Gratin of Eggs, Leeks, Bacon, and St. Andre Cheese was one of the many recipes that made me say 'ooooh' as I was reading Sunday Brunch by Betty Rosbottom.  (Read my review of Sunday Brunch.)  Leeks cooked in bacon is one of my favorite things.  I pretty much love anything cooked in bacon, but especially leeks.  I've used this combination on pizza and in soup but never with eggs.  St. Andre cheese was new to me and one I was eager to try after discovering it was a triple creme cheese from France.  I found a reasonably priced block of it at Trader Joe's and found it be very mild and delicious.  It's in the Brie family so you can certainly substitute that here.  Or if you are feeling less French, use whatever cheese you prefer.

Toasted baguette is used as the base in this casserole.  The sauteed leeks, bacon, cheese, and a mixture of eggs and half-and-half are added and the while thing is baked until puffy and golden.  Please take a minute to notice how beautifully puffy the gratin is as you pull it out of the oven.  If you aren't ready to bake it right away, no problem.  You can prepare it the night before making it a perfect choice for stress-free breakfast/brunch entertaining.

My go-to breakfast casserole uses crescent rolls, but I have to say I prefer the toasted bread.  The eggs and bread sort of meld together into this lovely texture that is light and airy.  The entire dish has the richness and sophistication of a quiche, but is much fluffier with the eggs being best described as pillowy.  This is a dish as much about texture as flavor with the crunchy bacon, slightly crisp leeks, gooey cheese, and soft eggs.  It was wonderful!

Do you ever eat breakfast for supper?

Gratin of Eggs, Leeks, Bacon, and St. Andre Cheese
Sunday Brunch, Betty Rosbottom

Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
1 baguette, or about enough crusty bread to cover bottom of dish
6 thick slices, bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (about 4 leeks)
6 oz St. Andre cheese, well chilled (or Brie)
6 eggs
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 tsp salt
Generous 2 pinches of cayenne pepper
1 tsp minced flat-leaf parsley or chives

Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously butter a 9-by-13 inch baking dish

Cut enough 1/2 inch thick slices from the baguette to make a single layer in the baking dish.  Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and bake without turning until crisp and very lightly colored, 10 minutes.  Remove and arrange the slices in the baking dish.
In a medium, heavy frying pan set over medium heat, fry the bacon pieces until crisp and browned, 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings and return the frying pan to medium heat.   Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until just softened, 4 to 5 minutes.  Sprinkle the leeks and bacon over the bread slices in the baking dish.
Cut the St. Andre cheese with its rind into 1/2 inch cubes and scatter them over the leeks and bacon.  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs to blend, and then whisk in the half-and-half, salt, and cayenne.  Pour the mixture into the baking dish.  Let the gratin stand at least 1 hour, or cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  (If the dish has been refrigerated, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking if you have time.  It also can go directly from the refrigerator to the oven but will take longer to cook.)

Bake the gratin until the egg mixture is set, the top is golden, and the mixture is bubbly, 40 to 45 minutes (10 to 15 minutes longer if straight from the refrigerator).  Remove and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with minced parsley or chives and serve hot.  
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  1. Oh, this looks fantastic! I love that you use St. Andre decadent and delectable!!! Perfect breakfast, lunch OR dinner :)

  2. A perfect breakfast:) I must try St. Andre cheese. I love the fact you can make it the night before. Perfect for busy mornings. Thanks for the great post!

  3. Oh yes, I love breakfast for dinner:) I could eat this for both and even lunch, it just looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This has me wishing it was breakfast time again. Yummy yum.

  5. B-4-S always feels like we're cheating somehow. And, while most of the time it's an actual breaky (scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and cream gravy), I can occasionally change things up with something a tad more upscale. This is "changed-up +!"

    St Andre and leeks.... a girl after my own tummy!


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