Recently I purchased some gigantic leeks… and I have to admit, they’d been sitting in my fridge for a few days while I tried to figure out what the heck to do with them. If you haven’t cooked with or seen leeks before, they kind of look like giant scallions, with really thick layers and covered in tons of dirt and grit. Usually this would gross me out, until I remember that plants do indeed have to come from somewhere. Like the ground. Where there’s dirt.
Another marvel of modern technology is the faucet and a nice sharp knife, which allowed me to easily clean the leeks to get to their shiny, green and white insides. Mallory: 1. Irrational fear of dirt: 0.
A huge bonus for this recipe is that you get to use wine in it. I am giving up drinking alcohol for Lent, so this is a great way for me to use up the bottles of wine that we’ve managed to accumulate in our apartment. Just because I’m not drinking it, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it, right?
If you have never had leeks before, I’d strongly recommend this recipe. The braising allows for serious flavor infusion from the wine, shallots, and fresh thyme. It tastes like you’re eating some buttery goodness with every bite- without the extra calories. A perfect side dish for an extra special meal!
Braised Leeks with Shallots and White Wine
From the New York Times, adapted from “Sunday Suppers at Lucques”
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 6 large leeks
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- About ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup sliced shallots
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1½ to 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Peel any bruised outer layers from leeks. Trim roots, leaving root end intact. Trim off tops on diagonal, leaving two inches of green. Cut in half lengthwise. Clean very well in water to remove internal grit. Pat dry with towel.
4. Heat pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Pour in ¼ cup oil and wait 1 minute. Place cut side down in pan without crowding them. (Make in two batches, and use more oil, if necessary.) Sear them 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, and turn over to cook 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer them, cut side up, to a gratin dish that will fit leeks and chicken, or use two dishes.
5. Pour ¼ cup oil into pan and heat over medium heat. Add shallots, thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, until just beginning to color. Add wine and reduce by half. Add 1½ cups stock, and bring to a boil over high heat. Please feel free to call all your friends at this point and brag about how amazing your kitchen smells.
Something about this meal made me feel really healthy. I guess the only way I could have made it better would have been by using brown rice instead… but white was what we had on hand. And can I tell you a secret? I like white rice better!