Leekstrimmed to yield 1/2 lb, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
2tbspunsalted butterfor the top of the gratin
Kosher salt and pepperto taste
½cupmeat or vegetable stockpreferably homemade
Cooking oil or lard
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the leeks in a wide baking dish. Cover the leeks with the stock, season lightly with the salt, pepper and thyme.
Heat some oil in a large saute pan and brown the hen of the woods lightly, you don’t need to cook them through, just make sure that they have some nice color on them. Season the hen of the woods with salt and pepper, then distribute them evenly over the leeks.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake, covered for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the leeks are very tender.
When the leeks are tender, remove the aluminum foil sprinkle on the breadcrumbs if using and dot evenly with the butter.
Increase the heat on the oven to 450 and brown for a few minutes, then serve immediately.
This can be made with or without the breadcrumbs. If you make it without the crumbs, you should still add the butter, it helps the top brown and adds great flavor.