Braised Leeks


I really LOVE leeks. If you have never cooked with them, I highly recommend that you start. They have this mild onion-y flavor that I cannot get enough of. They can be a pain in the ass to prepare, but here’s what ya do! Just as the picture above demonstrates, trim the gnarly bottom of roots. You really only use the white and light green parts, so chop off all the dark green tops. Slice the leek in half, longways. After this you can do two things: first, you can slice the leek into little half moon shapes and place in a bowl full of water (the dirt will fall to the bottom and at the top you will clean leeks ready to cook; or second, you can place the long half slice under running water, using your fingers to separate the layers of the leek allowing the water to get between each layer and wash away the dirt. I use both techniques depending on how much I am preparing or how I am preparing it 🙂But really, I LOVE leeks. I mean potato leek soup, sauteed leeks under fish (with lots of butter), one of my fave recipes, which I will have to share later a leek, corn, and bacon skillet…they are awesome companions to mushrooms and fresh herbs. But I guess you get the point: I love leeks and want you to love them too! So when I came across this recipe for braised leeks, I immediately went the the store to buy leeks galore.


Braised Leeks with Warm Pancetta Dressing
From Cooking Light – March 2008

Ingredients:

  • 4 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cleaned
  • S & P
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large carrot, cut into (3-inch) pieces – or a few baby carrots
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tspn. EVOO
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pancetta or 2 pieces of bacon
  • 2 TB finely chopped leek
  • 2 TB light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • S & P

Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. To prepare leeks, arrange leek halves in an 8-inch baking dish; sprinkle evenly with S & P. Add broth, carrot, garlic, and thyme.
3. Cut 1 (8-inch) square of parchment paper; lightly coat with cooking spray. Place parchment over leek mixture, coated side down.
4. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until leeks are tender. Let stand 5 minutes; drain cooking liquid through a sieve over a bowl, reserving solids.
5. Place cooking liquid in a small, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup or about 8 minutes.
6. Chop cooked carrot and garlic; set aside.
7. To prepare dressing, heat EVOO in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until crisp.
8. Stir in garlic and chopped leek; sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
9. Sprinkle with sugar; sauté 1 minute or until sugar dissolves.
10. Stir in vinegar; simmer 2 minutes.
11. Add braising liquid, S & P; simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thick. Remove from heat.
12. Arrange leek halves in a serving dish; sprinkle with carrot. Drizzle pancetta mixture over leek halves.

Menu: Roasted Salmon with herb and parmesan topping and old world rice pilaf (with beans!)
Music: Nina Simone. Album: Put a Spell on You, specifically the song “Feelin Good,” you know the one that Michael Buble did too. You can get it on itunes. I recommend a bottle of wine, too. Nina makes you want to drink a good glass of wine, always.

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