Bacon, Leek and Smoked Cheddar Toasts

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I’ve had a few holiday parties to attend this season, so I turned my thoughts to making something new to bring as an appetizer. This recipe is a new take on something I made a few years ago – but this time I added bacon, which was very popular, and the smoked cheddar and cracked pepper gave it some more complexity. Cooking the leeks in bacon fat adds more of that smokey, salty flavour we love so much.

If you prepare the leek topping ahead of time it’s really simple to make when you have company. Before serving you just need to top the bread with the leeks, bacon and cheese, pop it in the oven, and voila, a fabulous treat!

What you need:

  • 1 baguette (in Vancouver I prefer Bread Affair’s “Naked” traditional baguette}
  • 4-5 rashers of thick-cut bacon
  • 1 large leek or 2 small
  • a splash of milk or cream
  • a splash of white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated smoked cheddar (I used Balderson’s Double Smoked)
  • freshly cracked black pepper

What you do:

  1. Fry the bacon until it is just crisped up; I like to use a cast-iron pan for this. Remove the bacon from the pan to a plate lined with paper towel to soak up excess fat.  Chop the bacon when it has cooled.
  2. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, then slice them thinly.
  3. Remove some of the fat from the pan, leaving a tablespoon or two to cook the leeks in. Add the leeks to the pan and cook at medium heat for a few minutes. Add the milk and wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any bacony goodness. Cook for a few more minutes, until the leeks are soft and much of the liquid has evaporated. Add more milk and wine if the leeks are not soft enough, and then cook a bit longer. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that there will already be some salt from the bacon fat. Add the pecorino cheese and stir it in. You can either use this right now to top the bread, or refrigerate to use later.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Slice the baguette lengthwise and place it cut-side up on a baking tray. Top the bread with the leek mixture, and add the bacon on top. Sprinkle on the smoked cheddar. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the edges of the bread become a little bit crispy.
  5. Slice the baked bread into serving-sized pieces. Crack pepper on top, and serve right away.

Enjoy!

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