Tomorrow is St.David's day, so it's only right to look to Wales for inspiration for today's recipe. I did consider a true traditional Welsh recipe such as laverbread, but I have to be honest here and admit I haven't a clue how to cook that. But, I do like leeks and they are considered to be the Welsh national vegetable, so leeks in cheese sauce it is. Delicious, easy to make, and made with welsh cheese of course.
Using a Welsh cheese was my idea to make the recipe more, shall I say it... Welsh!
Now, I would have thought that was the easy part but it proved trickier than I expected. In fact when I went to buy the cheese from a local supermarket I was shocked at how little choice there was.
There is a reasonable choice of Continental cheeses, and amazing selection of Cheddar (do we really need that many cheddar's to choose from?), but when it comes to other British cheeses the variety is pretty abysmal.
You will probably find Stilton, red Leicester, double Gloucester, and if your lucky Wensleydale. As far as Welsh cheeses, they had absolutely none. Not all supermarkets are the same, of course, and admittedly I only shop in my small local supermarket, but I suspect the choices in the larger supermarkets will be much the same. Shocking, really.
There are so many many good British cheeses out there, it's a shame they are not more widely available. Luckily for me I have the fabulous (although pretty pricey) Borough market on my doorstep so of I went to Neal's yard dairy, and brought a delicious Caerphilly.
Hopefully you will have a good deli or independent local store nearby with a good selection of cheeses, but alternatively you could make the cheese sauce with another cheese. Although you could, if you must, use cheddar, I urge you to try artesian cheeses, at least once in a while. It can mean the difference between a good cheese sauce and an amazing cheese sauce.
Step by step Leeks in Cheese sauce
Leeks in cheese sauce makes a fabulous side dish, served with crusty bread it also makes for a great supper. For detailed step by step instructions with pictures on how to make a basic cheese sauce click here.
Leeks in cheese sauce
- 1 kg leeks trimmed, washed, and cut into 3cm lengths
- 50 g butter
- 25 g plain flour
- 300 ml milk
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- pinch nutmeg
- 125 g Caerphilly Cheese
- Steam the leeks for 5-10 minutes until just tender.
- Meanwhile make the cheese sauce. Melt half the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook the flour over a low heat for about 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
- Gradually add the milk while stirring well. Return to a low heat and keep stirring until the sauce thickens.
- Crumble most of the cheese into the pan and continue to cook until the cheese has melted, stirring constantly
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg.
- Place the leeks in a shallow ovenproof dish and spoon the cheese sauce over them.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the surface of the sauce, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Dot the remaining butter over the top of the dish and brown under a preheated grill until golden.