Welsh Ham and Leek Casserole

Welsh Ham and Leek Casserole

Welsh Ham and Leek Casserole

Ham-wrapped leeks smothered in a white Cheddar sauce is a favorite main dish in Wales. Although white Cheddar is traditional, any type of sharp Cheddar may be substituted.


Makes 6 servings


6 small leeks
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sliced celery
12 thin slices deli ham
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup bread crumbs


  1. To prepare leeks, remove any withered outer leaves. Cut off 1 inch of leaf tops; discard. Cut off roots, then cut leeks in half crosswise. Make slit down length of each leek half, being careful not to cut through leek completely. Rinse thoroughly. Tie 2 leek halves together with kitchen string; repeat with remaining leeks. Place leeks in Dutch oven; pour in enough lightly salted water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 6 to 8 minutes or until leeks are tender. Drain and pat dry. Remove strings.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place tomatoes in bottom of 13X9-inch baking dish.
  3. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add celery; cook 3 minutes or until celery is crisp-tender. Remove celery with slotted spoon; arrange evenly over tomatoes. Reserve butter in saucepan.
  4. Wrap 1 ham slice around each leek half. Arrange, seam side down, in single layer in baking dish.
  5. Add garlic to reserved butter in saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat 30 seconds. Stir in flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in milk and half-and-half until smooth. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in 3/4 cup cheese; continue to stir until cheese melts.
  6. Pour cheese sauce evenly over leeks. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

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