Leeks and Potatoes with Welsh Rarebit

This is a good lunch dish. I’ve taken liberties with traditional fare by marrying the time-honoured Welsh rarebit with the Swiss way of serving potatoes accompanied by melted Raclette cheese and by including leeks. You may be lucky enough to get some little new potatoes (probably imported), but if not, an old variety will do.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb (900 g) potatoes, cleaned
  • 6–8 leeks, as small as possible
  • 8 oz (225 g) dry, well-matured Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 oz (50 g) butter
  • ½ pint (150 ml) brown ale
  • Salt and cayenne pepper

Method

Steam the potatoes. Prepare the leeks by cutting off almost all the green part and steam them until just tender.

Put the cheese into a pan with the butter, ale and seasoning. Stir over a gentle heat until well melted (but do not allow to get too hot) and when the mixture is smooth and creamy, pour over the potatoes and leeks.

‘A person in 1805 heard an old man, who, had he been living would have been 104 years old, say that when a boy he had seen a couple of potatoes brought to his father’s house in Llanbedrig and that the man who brought them told the people present that they were eatable. Some present bit them and finding them nauseous threw them away. This was the first root of that kind seen in Lleyn.’

From Tours in Wales by Richard Fenton, 1804–13.

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