After a couple weeks of nice, dare I say spring-like temps here in Maine, we’ve now been plunged back into chilly winter temps (I’m talking sub-zero wind chills today). My knee-jerk reaction to Mother Nature’s winter pranks is to cook up big ol’ bowls of comfort food. If you’re a kindred culinary spirit, here you go— this Cheesy Potato, Ham and Leek Casserole delivers the warm, filling, homey dish you’ve been craving.
This recipe appears in our book, Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking, and while it is super tasty, it has an error as published. I’m thinking it must have been the copy editor who goofed and switched the cooking temp (wink, wink) because anyone who has ever used a slow cooker probably knows that potatoes are not tender in just 3 1/2 hours on LOW! Clearly, it was supposed to say HIGH heat. I have retested it several times now, and HIGH heat works just fine (and in 3 to 3 1/2 hours). I have made a few other changes as well, like skipping the step of peeling the potatoes, increasing the amount of ham and upping the cheese a bit, too (no such thing as too much cheese, right?). I think it has more of an entree presence now, as opposed to a side-dish. I also think the new version is even more delicious than the original, and hope you’ll agree.
- cooking spray
- 2 pounds round, white potatoes (boiling potatoes), scrubbed well and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 medium leek, trimmed, washed well and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 pound gluten-free ham, cubed (from a ham steak or leftover ham)
- 1/4 cup gluten-free chicken broth
- 1 1/4 cups 2% milk
- 1/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
- Coat the inside of the slow cooker crock with the cooking spray. Add the potato slices and leeks to the crock and toss to combine. Pour the broth over the top. Cover and cook 1 hour on HIGH.
- Add the ham cubes to the crock, layering them on top of the potatoes. Cover and cook 2 more hours on HIGH.
- Test potatoes for doneness (they should be fork tender). When done, turn he to LOW and prepare the sauce: In a medium microwavable bowl, whisk together the milk, cream and cornstarch. Microwave the mixture for 3 minutes on HIGH power; then whisk in the pepper, salt and nutmeg. Microwave another 2-3 minutes on HIGH power, whisking after each minute. The sauce will bubble up and thicken.
- Remove sauce from microwave; stir in 1 cup of the Gruyere. Pour the sauce over the potato mixture and stir to coat all ingredients with sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere over the top of the mixture, cover again and cook on LOW about 10 minutes more until cheese is melted.
NOTE: Sometimes milk products break down and appear curdled when cooked in the slow cooker. To avoid this, our recipe utilizes a white sauce prepared quickly in the microwave, then stirred into the potato mixture at the end of the cooking time.