CHEDDAR LEEK CRAB GRATIN

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A sophisticated yet simple appetizer shouldn’t be a headache to put together.  I’ve you’ve ever made mac and cheese, this fancy sounding gratin is even simpler.  Make a white sauce, fold in the ingredient, and bake! It’s warm, gooey and absolutely delicious. Try it with cauliflower for a vegetarian version. Enjoy!

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INGREDIENTS

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a large appetizer

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ounce butter

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup milk, heated

1/2 cup heavy cream

freshly grated nutmeg

sea salt

freshly ground white pepper

1/2 cup cheddar, grated

1 garlic clove

1/2 pound lump crab meat

preferably from Maine

1 small leek, rinsed, quartered, and chopped

INGREDIENTS (BREADCRUMBS)

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush bottom and side of a  3 cup gratin dish or ramekin with olive oil. With flat side of a heavy knife lightly crush garlic and rub over bottom and side of dish.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until fully incorporated, about 1 minute; do not allow to brown. Slowly add the milk and cream, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Fold in the crab, chopped leeks, and cheddar.  Top with breadcrumbs, mixed with melted butter, salt, and pepper.

Bake gratin, covered with foil, in middle of oven 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake gratin until tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes more. Let it cool for 5 minutes before serving (otherwise you’ll burn your mouth!) and serve with toasted baguette slices.