Monday, December 28, 2009

Braised Leeks

Recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques and adapted by Smitten Kitchen (a great cooking blog)
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen with Marimar

Last week, Jim and I had a cozy dinner with Andy, Linda, and Andy’s mother, Anna Marie at their house. Andy baked salmon, Linda made a salad and I made Chocolate Pecan Pie for dessert (recipe on this blog.) But the star of the dinner, as far as I was concerned, was the braised leek dish that Anna Marie brought. When I got home, I immediately researched recipes online. I thought this one sounded like the best, so we gave it a try for Christmas dinner along side Butternut Squash Gratin with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts (recipe on this blog.) Lost River Market & Deli usually has leeks, thank goodness! This dish tastes great leftover too, so it can certainly be made in advance.

6 large leeks
About ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil (We used a little less.)
1 cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
½ cup dry white wine (We used a bit more.)
1 ½ to 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Remove any bruised outer layers from the leeks. Trim off to the roots, leaving the root end intact. Trim the tops of the leeks on the diagonal, leaving 2 inches of the green part attached. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and submerge in a large bowl of cold water to clean them. Shake the leeks well to dislodge the dirt stuck inside. Let them sit a few minutes, to allow any grit inside the layers to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Repeat the process until the water is clean. Place the leeks, cut side down, on a towel and pat dry completely.
Turn the leeks over so their cut sides are facing up, and season with 2 teaspoons salt and a few grindings of black pepper.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil, and wait 1 minute. Place the leeks in the pan, cut side down, being careful not to crowd them. (You will probably need to sauté them in batches or in two pans. Add more olive oil to the pan as needed, for each batch.)
Sear the leeks 4 to 5 minutes, until they are golden brown. Season the backs of the leeks with salt and pepper, and turn them over to cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer them to a large gratin dish, lining them up, cut sides facing up. (Choose a baking dish or gratin dish that can go from oven to table and that will accommodate all the leeks or use two smaller dishes.)
Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the shallots, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, until the shallots are just beginning to color. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Add 1 1/2 cups stock, and bring to a boil over high heat.
Pour the liquid over the leeks. The stock should not quite cover them; add more stock if necessary.
Braise in the oven 30 minutes, until the leeks are tender when pierced. (Do not cover.)

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