Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Braised Leeks

"The vichyssoise delicious was...." is a quote that I recall from years ago--I think attributed to Jackie Kennedy.  I have seldom used leeks except to put in the occasional potato soup pot.  Although I do like cold soups (in hot weather), vichyssoise, that sophisticated chilled potato and leek soup, is not on my favored list.   Last week I was browsing the produce department of my local grocery store looking for something a little different to perk up our dinner and the leeks were looking good.  A milder member of the onion family, leeks can be used fresh in salads.  They are quite delicious sliced, sauteed and added to other vegetables.  When braised, they become tender and mild tasting and add a touch of sophistication to a meal.  Only the white and a bit of the light green of the leek is best.  Some cooks like to save the dark green to toss in the pot when making stock.  I've found that it can be quite bitter and prefer not to take a chance.  Leeks can hide quite a bit of grit and dirt in their layers so they must be thoroughly washed before use.  The recipe that I'm sharing today is simple and simply delicious.

 Braised Leeks a recipe from Simply Recipes and From the Writer's Kitchen

4 to 6 leeks of uniform size
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp butter
2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf
1 cup vegetable stock or dry white wine
1/4 cup flat leafed parsley, chopped

1.  Cut the dark green leaves from the leeks then cut them in half, lengthwise.  Carefully pull back the layers and wash thoroughly.
2.  Use a saute pan large enough to hold the leeks in one layer.  Over medium heat, melt the butter.  Lower the heat and add the minced garlic and the leeks, cut side down.  Saute for two minutes, turn over and saute an additional two minutes.  Turn over so that the cut side is down, sprinkle with the sugar, the thyme leaves and a touch of salt.  Add the stock or wine and the bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook 30 to 35 minutes.
3.  When the leeks are tender, uncover the pot, raise the heat to a boil and reduce the liquid by half.  Sprinkle with the parsley.