Potato-Chard "Strata" With Gruyere and Bacon

I didn't order take-out, but I didn't make the Brussels sprout dish either. Instead, I conducted a "clean out my fridge" casserole challenge.It looks extremely promising but before describing it, let me first say one thing. In my opinion, casserole has a somewhat awful connotation: canned veggies, powdered soups, fake cheese, not good for you, lots of goop warmed together so that textures and flavors are lost in a mess of bad sauciness. I do not groove on these sorts of meals. I do, however, like good, fresh ingredients thoughtfully put together and warmed. And on a cold night, if you're not going to make a good stew or soup, a fine casserole can definitely fit the bill.

While "strata" usually (always?) means a layered dish with eggs as a primary ingredient, I use it here in quotes simply to suggest to you that this casserole is layered; in fact, many times so. I started with some gorgeous purple potatoes I bought recently- mandolined them so they were thin enough not to require precooking. Roughly 1/3 of them served as the base for this dish. I then cooked some bacon, set it aside, poured out all but a tablespoon of the rendered fat, and in that cooked 1 leek + the stems from one bunch of chard. When they were nice and soft, I poured 2 T cream over it to deglaze the pan and give it some heft, seasoned with salt and pepper and set aside. I washed and chopped the chard leaves and got out the Gruyère.

Layer two was the cream-leek-stem mixture with half the bacon crumbled on top, then some of the chard leaves, then shaved Gruyère. More potatoes, cream mixture, bacon, leaves, cheese. And finally one last layer of potatoes and some butter-toasted bread crumbs, and then some more Gruyère.

It's in the oven now. Frankly, I think this sounds really good!

Charles Krauthammer skeeves me out. Also, I'm not on his political team but anyway.

Herman Cain- say what? This guy is out!