Beans au gratin
This one pot dish – inspired by the classic potatoes au gratin – hits all the marks: it's creamy, luscious, and delicious; takes no time at all to prepare, and is great for both dinner parties or weeknights. Like potatoes, beans absorb the rich sauce as they cook, and in some ways, beans are even preferred due to the satisfying boost in protein.
- 1 lb dried beans
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 oz pancetta, cubed
- 2 medium leeks, trimmed, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and sliced into ¼-inch half moons
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5-6 sprigs thyme, leaves only
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated gruyère
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 4 tbsp panko bread crumbs
Prepare the beans: Cook beans according to our guide in the cooking vessel of your choice. Once cooked, strain and reserve.
Sauté the ingredients: In a large cast iron skillet or casserole, heat butter over medium-low heat, and cook pancetta until most of the fat has been rendered and the meat is browned. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Add leeks and sauté over medium heat for 6-7 minutes or until softened and just beginning to brown. Add garlic and thyme and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes longer. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine and bake: Add strained beans to the leek and pancetta mixture, and stir to combine. Add cream and about a third of the cheese, stirring well to fully coat beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread mixture evenly throughout the pan, flattening with a spatula for an even surface. Top with remaining cheese and panko, cover, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. Remove lid and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until cheese and panko topping is golden and bubbly.