The thing to do with leeks

I was pretty stunned to discover from Richard Lovemore that you could literally just cook aubergines in their skin, and the skin acted like foil. I was even more amazed when Iain Longhorn showed me how you could do a similar thing with leeks.

It is so simple it is hardly worth a post. But because it is so simple, and good, it definitely is worth a post. It’s more of a method than a recipe.

With leeks it’s better to overcook, rather than undercook – some people find them difficult to digest, and slow-cooked they go silky smooth… wonderful.

Waste not….

Throw the fan of green leaves you are going to cut off into your stock pot.

Couldn’t be simpler cooking leeks method – allow a couple of leeks per person

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Wash off any clinging-on earth from the leeks, but aside from that leave them as they are, still with thick outer casing, but cut off the fan of thick green leaves.
  3. Oil them with olive oil, and season them. Bake them on a tray lined with baking or silicon paper for about half an hour – just until they are very tender when you pierce them with the tip of a knife. By this stage the outer leaves will be quite well covered.
  4. Cut off the roots.
  5. Take the outer leaves, the rough leek ‘stocking’, off by cutting vertically along through the outer leaves and peeling it off.
  6. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil (or butter, or cream) and seasoning, and serve.
They’ve been in the oven for about half an hour.
Slice off the end.
Slice through the outer skin vertically.

Things you can do, once cooked, with leeks

  • As Russell Brown does – treat for vegetarians – drizzle with truffle butter and sprinkle over a garlic and herb crumb
  • also for vegetarians – with artichoke hearts and peas
  • Add to leftover chicken, ham, mustard, and crème fraîche to make a pie filling…or another filling of bacon and pheasant
  • They go well with lamb
  • They are good in risottos
  • Mix with potato and cream to make a hearty soup… a Vichyssoise or with chicken and bacon for a Cock-a-leekie
  • Good with cheese and bacon in a gratin
  • Add to Welsh cawl
  • Make a Flemish leek tart, a Flamiche
  • Go well with most fish especially haddock and turbot
  • With smoked haddock in a pasta bake
  • With salmon, Parma ham and lemon beans
  • And another fish pairing, with cod and black pudding
  • Fry, and add cannelloni beans and crème fraîche, serve with chicken
  • Mix with salmon and wrap in filo
  • Serve with a mustard vinaigrette made with olive oil slowly whisked into red wine vinegar (or, I prefer sherry vinegar) and Dijon mustard.
  • Anointed with lots of butter and cheese, served atop toast
  • Braised with dry vermouth, mustard and crème fraîche

Things you can do with raw leeks – shaved very thin

  • Add to stir fries
  • Add to a tomato salad

A bit of history about leeks

Leeks have only had their alluring fan of broad leaves for a few hundred years… before that they were more like young onions. And they were enjoyed by the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans…. and thanks to the Romans, by the Welsh. The Babylonians used them with pigeon and lamb. The Romans added them to their stewed quince. They are the Welsh national vegetable, not just growing there prolifically, but also reflecting the snow-topped mountains and green valleys.

Snow-capped mountains and green valleys in Wales

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