Braised Leeks: Dinner fit for a King

I love leeks. Around here,they call the wild ones “Ramps” which has a stronger, almost garlic quality which lingers and lingers. The leek has been around since Egyptian time, was introduced to Britian by the Romans and is the national vegetable of Wales. It  is considered by many to be the aristocrat of vegetables . I used the recipe I found on this site:(http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/braised_leeks/)

Personally, I love leeks and even though they are expensive, I always have leeks in the fridge and use just about every part except the grit for something. Tonight I made braised leeks, totally delicious, and had it with the last of the corn chowder.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 leeks
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3-4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup white wine or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Method

1 Cut off the ends of the leeks until you get to the shank; a little of the light green part is fine, but not too much of it. If you want, you can save the unused portion of the leeks in the freezer for making stock later. Slice through the shank of the leek lengthwise until you get to the root end—do not cut through the root just yet. Clean the leeks under cold running water, as leeks are usually dirty. Once the leeks are free of any dirt or grit, cut through the root to make two long pieces of leek.

2 Get a sauté pan large enough to hold the leeks in one layer and heat the butter in it over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and begins to foam, turn the heat down to medium and add the minced garlic and then the leeks, cut side down. Cook for 1-2 minutes, just to get them a little browned and to let the butter get into the leeks. Turn over and sprinkle with salt, then cook the other side for 1-2 minutes.

3 Turn the leeks back over so the cut side is down, sprinkle the leeks with the sugar, the thyme leaves and a touch more salt. Add the white wine with the bay leaf and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook 35-45 minutes over medium-low heat.

4 When the leeks are tender enough so that a knife blade pierces them easily, uncover the pot and bring the braising liquid to a rolling boil. Let this reduce by half, then turn off the heat. Add the parsley, swirl it around and serve.

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I bought a book recently called THE COUNTRY COOKING OF IRELAND by Coleman Andrews, It was pretty pricey but well worth the money. What I liked about it is that he used sources from 18th century manuscripts to hotel fare. One of the recipes is an ancient one called Brotchan foltchep, which is another name  for  leek and oatmeal soup. In “The Country Cooking of Ireland,” Colman Andrews calls this “a modern version of the famous soup, also called brotchan (or brochan or brothchan) roy, or ‘the king’s soup,’ that is said to have been the favorite dish of Ireland’s celebrated sixth-century spiritual and literary icon, St. Columkille. It is … quite possibly the oldest traditional Irish dish for which it is possible to reconstruct a recipe.”

My chef friend actually introduced a variation of this soup to me 10 years ago that is indigenous of the Austrian Tyrol. Either way, it’s rib sticking GOOD!!! (Bob, if you’re reading this, you can have this as part of your diet and you WILL thank me!)

2 tablespoons butter

4 leeks, trimmed, sliced thinly

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups milk

1/2 cup Irish steel-cut oats

1/2 teaspoon each : ground mace, salt

Freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat; add the leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are very soft, 12-15 minutes.

Add the broth and milk. Raise the heat to high; heat to a boil. Sprinkle in the oatmeal. Add the mace, salt and pepper to taste. Return the liquid to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low. Cover; simmer until oats are tender, 45 minutes.

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