Salt Cod & Leek Gratin Recipe

A French dip or casserole, baked in the oven and perfect for winter entertaining. Just remember to start the preparations for this dish a day in advance.

2 lb. salt cod
3 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
2 medium leeks, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
Cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste
5 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
Cured black olives for garnish


Step 1: Soak the salt cod in cold water a minimum of 24 hours, changing water as often as possible. Rinse before using.

Step 2: In a large pot, cover the soaked, rinsed cod with fresh cold water. Add garlic cloves and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the fish flakes to the touch. Drain off the water and let fish cool. Discard bay leaves and garlic cloves. When fish is cool, separate into small flakes. Set aside.

Step 3: Preheat oven to 375°F.

Step 4: Cook leeks gently in 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup olive oil until soft, seasoning lightly with salt, cayenne and pepper. Add to the flaked cod and toss together gently. Set aside.

Step 5: Prepare a béchamel sauce by using a wooden spoon to blend second 1/4 cup butter with flour over medium heat. Whisk in milk gradually, stirring constantly until béchamel sauce is thick and smooth. Remove from heat; cool.

Step 6: Mix together béchamel sauce, Gruyère, leek and cod mixture.

Step 7: Pour into a 3 or 4 cup heat-proof buttered baking dish, dot with butter and bake in preheated oven for 10-20 minutes. Surface should be crisp, golden and bubbling.

Step 8: Garnish with black olives and a sprig of Italian parsley, if desired. Serve with toasted baguette or crisp flatbreads.

© Hermann