The original fontina—Fontina Val d’Aosta PDO—is an ancient Alpine cheese that’s been made in the mountains of northwest Italy since at least the 1500s. Besides being one of the oldest identifiable cheeses out there, the wheel (whether PDO or not) is known for its glorious meltability. Nutty and sweet, it matches up well with a variety of winter dishes, like this luxurious mushroom and leek gratin.
Mushroom and Leek Gratin
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 4 leeks white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed, and cut crosswise into ½-inch slices
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound oyster mushrooms stemmed, halved if large
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 6 ounces fontina cheese grated (about 1¾ cups)
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- Heat oven to 400ºF.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy 9-inch skillet (preferably oven-safe) over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add chicken stock and cream. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, warm oil in another large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 12 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add garlic and thyme. Cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.Add mushrooms and fontina to leek mixture and stir. Transfer to a 9-inch-by-9-inch baking dish if skillet is not oven-safe.
- In empty skillet, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and crispy, about 8 minutes. Top mushroom-leek mixture with breadcrumbs.
- Bake until golden and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes.