Leeks, quite frankly, are fabulous. If they only make an appearance in your kitchen when you're making a soup or stew, then, quite franky, you're missing out. They lend lovely subtle, unique flavour to broths, as you know, but they do other great things--like caramelize, for instance, stand up to braising, and they fry up really crispy too. Here's how to take advantage of all three delicious traits.
1. You may have heard of onion marmalade, and you can take leeks in the same, sweet direction. Slice them thinly and cook or roast them slow and low with lots of butter or oil. When they are eventually brown, soft and wilted, you'll caramelized leeks that are lovely spooned onto toast or served as a sort of chutney with spicy foods.
2. If you look in the fridge and only find leeks rolling around your crisper, that's actually a good thing. This is the perfect excuse for leeks gratinee, the perfect dish for letting leeks star. Halve (or quarter larges ones) lengthwise and brown them in butter, then add some white wine, water, salt and fresh herbs like tarragon for flavour and cover to braise them. Turn on the broiler once the leeks are cooked through, top them with a sprinkling of cheese and breadcrumbs and broil them for a minute until golden. This, plus a piece of crusty bread for that wine sauce, will likely make for your happiest dinner all week.
3. My aunt shared her famous fried leeks recipe with me recently and my friend quickly pointed out that leek chips are the new kale chips--though the method is not quite as virtuous. Take the time to cut leeks into matchsticks before frying them in batches and seasoning them, and you have a party snack that no one will be able to resist. These fried leeks shatter like chips but are so much more flavourful. They also make great croutons for those soups that they were buried in before their glory was unearthed.
Also see: 3 Seriously Good Ways to Eat Radishes
And speaking of earth, you can't be lazy about cleaning leeks--there is almost always an impressive amount of dirt between each layer. If a recipe requires that you slice your leeks, you can do that first and separate the rings before washing them in a couple of changes of cold water and then rinsing them under running water in a colander. For recipes where you might halve leeks lengthwise, peel back the layers and actively rinse the dirt from between them, even if the root is still holding them together. Aside from perhaps the very toughest, outer green tops, leek greens are edible when cooked for a little longer. If you choose to use only the white part, save the cleaned green tops in your freezer for those old soup recipes.
Also see: Orange and Rosemary Grilled Chicken
Yasmin Seneviratne blogs at Le Sauce, sharing original recipes, beautiful ideas and entertaining stories about food.
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