I so wish there was a way for me to share the delicious smell that comes out of the oven when this Sweet Potato, Leek, Apple Gratin is baking. It might sound like there is a lot going on in this dish, but the flavors perfectly complement each other. The sweetness of the apples and apple cider are delicious with the thyme and cheddar.
I’ve traditionally made a sweet potato casserole with a brown sugar topping for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, but this is a nice change of pace. There’s already so many sweet dishes around the holidays that the savory sweet potatoes are a welcome switch. My family was a little skeptical when I served this last year in place of the beloved brown sugar sweet potatoes, but after one bite they were all converted.
- 1½ cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs (from an airy, crusty loaf like ciabatta)
- 2 tbl. unsalted butter, melted
- Dash salt
- ¾ cup grated sharp cheddar
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups sliced leeks, thoroughly washed
- Pinch salt
- 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- ¾ cup apple cider
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme
- 18 oz. peeled, sliced sweet potatoes
- Combine all of the topping ingredients together in a bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the apples and cook an additional 10 minutes until apples are softened and the leeks are slightly brown. Add the apple cider and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the cream, thyme, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
- Layer the sliced sweet potatoes in the baking dish. Pour the apple-leek mixture over the potatoes and gently stir to combine. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top. Bake for approximately 60 minutes until the topping is browned and the potatoes are tender. Let the dish cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Fine Cooking