Today’s post is truly an example of over-the-top Thanksgiving cooking. Fair warning…this is one of the richest things (aka fatty) I’ve made in a very long time. But it was so delicious and really satisfying in tiny portions that I’d make again in a heartbeat…assuming I still had a pulse after consuming the pancetta and cream involved in the dish.
Before we get to this recipe, here are some other previously published Thanksgiving dishes that are well worth a look into.
First, there’s the essential cranberry relish. This is a must have on any table and this one is a winner. I just got the following message from my friend, Susan; “I made your cranberry citrus relish yesterday. I was tired of my mother’s recipe but had to sample yours before I served it on Turkey Day. It was d-double-ious!” And here’s the link to the story and the recipe:http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2009/12/ultimate-cranberry-citrus-relish.html
Then there’s the recipe for Cornbread stuffing..Susan goes on to say: “I’m dying to try the cornbread stuffing too, but my traditional sausage stuffing is a big favorite. Maybe two this year?” I think mine is pretty terrific. http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2009/12/cornbread-and-sausage-dressing.html
Finally, I highly recommend this incredible pumpkin layer cake:http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/10/brown-butter-pumpkin-layer-cake.html And to further tell you how much we love this cake, I had to bring in a virtual ‘batterie de cuisine’ so that this cake can be made in Pennsylvania, where we are headed for Thanksgiving this year.
12 oz. pancetta or country ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup minced garlic
3 cups heavy cream
6 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 medium sweet potatoes* (2 lb. total), peeled
Lift the leeks gently from their soaking water so that any grit stays behind. Drain them in a colander. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the pancetta or ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 9 min.
Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Add the leeks and garlic to the pan, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Sweat the leeks and garlic, cooking slowly and stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened, about 5 min. (Don’t let the leeks or garlic brown.)
Add the cream, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 5 min. Stir in the pancetta or ham, the thyme, and the salt; add pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Butter a 12 x 9 in baking dish. Slice the sweet potatoes between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. Repeat with the Idaho potatoes. Arrange one overlapping layer of Idaho slices on the bottom of the casserole. Spoon 1/4 of the leek cream evenly over the potatoes. Add a layer of sweet potato slices, and spoon on another ¼ portion of the leek cream. Repeat with the remaining potatoes in alternate layers until all are used. With your hands or a rubber spatula, press down firmly on the potatoes and drizzle the remaining leek cream over them. Bake until the gratin is golden on top, 50 to 60 min. Let rest in a warm place for 15 min. Cut into squares and serve.
I made this a day in advance, covered it with plastic wrap and baked it on day two. It was excellent. By the way, Fine Cooking lists the calorie count on a serving of this dish as 540 calories. I won’t go into the fat grams.