You really can't go wrong when you combine potatoes, ricotta, gruyere, leeks and pancetta. These individual size portions are made in a muffin tin for easy serving, creating a great holiday buffet dish or cocktail party appetizer!
I first posted this recipe in the dead of winter, right after the coldest February on record in Chicago! Thoughts were finally turning to Spring. When you live someplace where it's very cold in the winter anything that conjures up thoughts of spring is extremely welcome! This dish makes me think of Easter.... individual potato gratins with creamy cheese, some sautéed leeks and crispy pancetta baked to a nice crisp golden brown. Yum!!
Pancetta and leeks are actually two of my favorite ingredients. I love the way pancetta adds a nice salty crunch to a dish without being too greasy. Leeks are great when you want to add a milder, slightly sweeter flavor than an onion to a dish. I enjoy coming up with yummy concoctions to use them together!
When I first created this recipe it was one large potato gratin in a casserole dish but since I love recipes that create individual servings I decided to revamp it by using the muffin tin to create smaller portions that get nice and crispy on the edges. Who loves crispy, cheesy potatoes?!
How to make potato gratins
Like most appetizer and side dish recipes I post, these potato gratins are relatively easy to make. These simple steps will help to ensure crisp, delicious potatoes every time!
Cook the pancetta and leeks: The fat from the pancetta gives the leeks flavor, so you want to start by cooking the pancetta and then add the leeks. Starting with this step gives both some time to cool before adding the cheese and ensures the potatoes don't start to turn pink before cooking.
Make the cheese mixture: First, you mix the cheeses and cream, then you add the leeks and pancetta. This mixture gives the dish it's flavor!
Slice the potatoes: In order to get them to cook properly, the potatoes need to be sliced quite thin, so I'd recommend using a mandoline. This will ensure you get the right thickness and that all the slices are consistent. Definitely wait until right before you are ready to assemble the gratins to slice the potatoes. I pretty much put them into the muffin tin right after I slice them.
Assemble the gratins: You'll be laying potatoes and cheese in the muffin pan. Be sure to spray the pan lightly with cooking spray before you start so you don't get too much sticking.
Cook the potatoes: Once assembled, they go into the oven for about 45 minutes. Keep an eye on them, as you don't want them to get too crisp around the edges.
How to serve potato gratins
Creating individual servings also makes it really easy to portion out and if you are serving a crowd it can help with planning, as you can count on 1-2 portions per person. And I just think they are really fun too!!
These mini potato gratins have so many possibilities when it comes to serving them. You can use them as a side dish at a sit-down holiday dinner - instant portion control! They also make a great addition to a buffet be it a holiday dinner buffet or a cocktail party spread. However, you decide to serve them they are sure to get rave reviews from your guests!!
And if you want to indulge all by yourself, serve them with a nice green salad and a glass of wine for a tasty light meal. I may have eaten about half of them in one sitting before!
If you love leeks and pancetta together, check out my Quiche with Leeks & Pancetta that also combines both of them for a perfect brunch dish!
things you may want for this recipe
OXO V-Blade Mandoline - I like this mandoline because it is reasonably priced and lets you control the thickness of the slices with the turn of a dial. It also comes with several different blades so you can also julienne veggies too. And it comes apart easily for cleaning and then locks for storing.
Individual Potato Gratin with Leeks & Pancetta
- 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
- ½ teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup leeks, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup part-skim ricotta
- 3 ounces gruyere cheese, grated and divided
- ¼ cup greek yogurt
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon coarse ground pepper
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled
- Prep the pan. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a standard size 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
- Cook the pancetta and leeks. Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until crisp. Remove from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Return pan to heat; add butter and melt. Add leeks and cook for 2 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool.
- Make the cheese mixture. In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, 2oz gruyere, greek yogurt, cream, thyme and pepper. Mix well. Add leeks and pancetta. Stir until combined.
- Slice the potatoes. Using a mandoline, slice the potatoes into 3/16" thick slices.
- Assemble the gratins. Add a slice of potato to each of the muffin cups. Top with about a tablespoon of the cheese mixture. Repeat with a second layer. Top the second layer with a slice of potato and sprinkle with remaining gruyere.
- Cook the potatoes. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and the edges are crispy. Turn the oven up to 450°F and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Serve. Remove from pan and serve.
Updated. Originally posted February 2015.