There is something magic about potatoes, is there not? Especially when browned, they are more delicious than pasta or rice, more versatile, and never fail to produce a satisfying endorphin high. The only person to disparage them is my beloved Professor, who declared in La Physiologie du Goût that “neither the Irish nor the Italians will be free until one gives up the potato and the other macaroni.” He found potatoes to be both fattening (this concession I reluctantly grant) and tasteless (jamais de la vie!) One of his few errors in judgement…
I made this potato, leek and kale casserole from ingredients on hand. With a little inspiration from a certain Irish saint.
Pádraig’s Potato Casserole
4 very large “restaurant-size” potatoes, peeled, and boiled until mashable
4-5 leaves of curly kale, sliced into thin ribbons and lightly chopped (no stems)
1 fat leek, thinly sliced (white and light green part only) and sautéed in butter
2 T. good butter, melted
1/2 cup thick Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar (I used Tillamook extra sharp but a good Irish cheddar would be ideal!)
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Butter a glass casserole dish and put a thin layer of breadcrumbs on the bottom. Microwave the kale ribbons in a covered container until wilted, about 2 minutes. Mash or whip the potatoes with yogurt and melted butter, plus a little potato water. Add a pinch of salt and some fresh-ground pepper. Mix in the kale and leeks, then two-thirds of the cheese. Spread the mixture in the casserole, and top with the rest of the cheese and more breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, then broil until the top is browned.
You need a good Sauv Blanc or unoaked Chardonnay for this, to cut through the carbs and cheese!