Thursday, September 23, 2010


An often overlooked member of the onion, and garlic family, leeks are an amazing ingredient on the savory side of the kitchen. When grown they can either go over winter, and be an early spring harvest, or a late summer harvest. chances are your local grocer has them year round, and grown in the USA, and because they grow easily, they also tend to be on the inexpensive side. This bundle costed me less than $2.00. they also have a ton of usage applications. They are fantastic sauteed over fish, in stocks with your mirepoix, and the leaves are great to tie vegetables for a fantastic presentation, or to tie around a bouquet garni (a mixture of fresh spices that sits in a stock- tied for easy removal). The perfect application for leeks is a leek and potato soup that when served cold is called vyshisoisse (vish-ee-swa). A fantastic rainy day fall lunch.

When buying leeks look for heavy, full, and bright. The leaves shouldn't have any discoloration. The leaves are always discarded as they tend to be very fibrous and bitter. I usually cut just above where they begin to change from dark green leaves into the lighter green stalk. They grow in layers so dirt will pack into some of the layers making them one of the few vegetables that should be cleaned after cutting. Rinse them well, trim the top, then cut the root end off, quarter or half them, then slice them fine. Put them in a large bowl and cover them with water. Allow them to soak for at least a few minutes, stirring often to allow the water to separate the dirt from the flesh.  The dirt should sink to the bottom. Pull them out, don't dump them, and then give them another good rinse with cold water in a collander.

Some classic applications are sauteed with clams, soups, and stocks. I really like them sauteed over a baked potato, grilled with beef, braised in a salad, or crispy fried as a cool snack or garnish. Regardless of your intended use they are very approachable, and easily procured.

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