Gratin of Eggs, Leeks, Bacon and St. André Cheese

Gratin of Eggs, Leeks, Bacon and St. André Cheese

Many families enjoy hosting overnight guests come the holiday season. Waking up to a full house and enjoying a leisurely breakfast with family and friends is a great way to begin a new day and such moments make for great opportunities to catch up with loved ones.

The following recipe for “Gratin of Eggs, Leeks, Bacon, and St. André Cheese” from Betty Rosbottom and Susie Cushner’s “Sunday Brunch” (Chronicle Books) includes the staples of a traditional breakfast: Bacon, eggs and toast. This dish also can be assembled the night before and simply popped into the oven the next morning once everyone wakes up, making it an ideal morning meal that allows hosts to join in the breakfast table conversation.

Gratin of Egg s, Leeks, Bacon, and Cheese

Serves 6 11 baguette, about 2 /2 to 3 inches in diameter

6 thick slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts

6 ounces St. André cheese, well chilled (see note)

6 eggs

12 /2 cups half-and-half

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley or chives

Unsalted butter, for the baking dish

Generous 2 pinches of cayenne pepper

1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

2. Cut enough 1/2-inchthick slices from the baguette to make a single layer in the baking dish. (You will probably need between 20 and 24 slices; save extra slices for another use). Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and bake without turning until crisp and very lightly colored, 10 minutes. Remove and arrange the slices in the baking dish.

3. In a medium, heavy frying pan, set over medium heat and fry the bacon pieces for 5 minutes until crisp and browned. Drain on paper towels.

4. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings and return the frying pan to medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until just softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the leeks and bacon over the bread slices in the baking dish.

5. Cut the St. André cheese with its rind into 1/2-inch cubes and scatter them over the leeks and bacon in the baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs to blend and then whisk in the half-and-half, salt and cayenne. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Let the gratin stand at least 1 hour, or cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. If the dish has been refrigerated, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking if you have time. (It also can go directly from the refrigerator to the oven but will take longer to cook).

6. Bake the gratin until the egg mixture is set, the top is golden and the mixture is bubbly, 40 to 45 minutes (10 to 15 minutes longer if straight from the refrigerator). Remove and let cool for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve hot.

Note: St. André cheese is a mild, triple-cream French cheese with a white rind. It is available at many grocers and cheese stores. If you are unable to find it, you can substitute a triple-cream Brie.