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How to Take a Leek

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Bill Spohn

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How to Take a Leek

by Bill Spohn » Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:27 pm

I have always enjoyed braised leeks, but I see so many different methods of doing it and many seem to result in a sub-par result, either rendering it into a charred mess, or chopping it up into soggy confetti.

I can't say that my way is the best way, but its the way we like them.

Take small leeks. Save the big ones for something else. No bigger than your thumb. Well, my thumb, anyway.

Take the leeks and cut off the root and the green part above where it branches out. You don't want to do the 'split and shake around in water rinse' technique, you want just the tightly wrapped part that isn't going to have dirt inside. Remove the outer leaves if they are coarse.

When you have the BBQ up to heat, drop them on, and turn them a couple of times. It shouldn't take more than 5-6 minutes total on a hot barbie to get good markings on the outside. If you leave them on too long, you can always remove the outer layer, but you run the risk that you will render the insides soft and squishy, which isn't what we are after.

Immediately put the leeks into a snap on plastic container and seal (I often drizzle with EVOO before I seal them up. Leave them alone for 10-15 minutes so the cooking continues and the leeks are cooked through but not soft. You can serve them warm or chill them for cold service later and this method is simpler than blanching and then grilling and I think it gives a nicer tactile feel - not slimy or slippery, but still crisp but tender.

Toppings/dressings include balsamic vinegar and EVOO, S&P, bacon bits (which go with just about anything! - and I mean real bacon, not fake bacon as found at chain restaurant sald bars - but surely I don't have to say that here.) I rarely get any fancier than that although people seem to want to add cheese, dried tomatoes, peppers, Heaven knows what. I like simple, maybe a vinaigrette....but I hate to see that ravelled pile of sad stringy looking leeks that often results from some recipes and techniques I've seen.

Any other fave leek preparations?
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Karen/NoCA

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Re: How to Take a Leek

by Karen/NoCA » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:20 pm

I love leeks, love the way they smell when in a sauté especially. I've never found a way to braise them that I like. I leave the root end on, then cut the tough dark green part off. Slit the tough outer leaves and take them off until you see less and less dirt usually up near the cut end. Open the leaves as much as you can and put under the fauct to wash, keeping the leek intact, because the roots are still there.
Then, give them a good shake, then cut off the roots, and slice, 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. I have never seen any dirt in them after doing this. Then, use them in omeletes, soups, stews, pastas, beans, and chili dishes. They just sort of seem to melt right into a dish, and offer of wonderful flavor to savory foods.
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Christina Georgina

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Re: How to Take a Leek

by Christina Georgina » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:53 pm

Very interesting to me. I gave up cooking leeks to serve as a stand alone precisely for the reasons mentioned. They always came out an unappetizing color and with a soggy stringiness that refused cutting. Use them all the time chopped, fried, carmelized as part of a braise for something else. Also lightly carmelized in butter with seasonings of choice and then whizzed in a blender, processor or hand blender as a puree for pasta sauce, lasagna, dolloped in a soup, base for seared scallops....love the depth of flavor they add
Mamma Mia !
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Jeff Grossman/NYC

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Re: How to Take a Leek

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:36 am

Christine Huang's Leek Puree (and I quote):

The Leek Puree is as easy as it gets. I usually use 1 medium leek per person. Clean it thoroughly and cut into 2" pieces, using the white and light green parts only. Boil in salted water for roughly 4-5 minutes, just until they are soft. Drain, but do not press out the water. Pulse in a food processor until you get the consistency you want. Add 1 Tablespoon of butter per 2 leeks or to your taste. Salt and Pepper to taste. That's it. It will taste like you used a lot more butter than you actually did.
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Jenise

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Re: How to Take a Leek

by Jenise » Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:23 pm

Christina Georgina wrote: Also lightly carmelized in butter with seasonings of choice and then whizzed in a blender, processor or hand blender as a puree for pasta sauce, lasagna, dolloped in a soup, base for seared scallops....love the depth of flavor they add


A favorite of ours, copying something I had and loved in Burgundy, is to do something similar to Christine's recipe provided by Jeff, but with a bit of cream too. The resulting texture is mousse-like, and that's exactly what I call it when I do it. Absolutely terrific with poached salmon or, as we had it in Morey St. Denis, with warm smoked trout.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: How to Take a Leek

by Mike Filigenzi » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:20 pm

Is there anything that can be done with the fibrous, dark green part of the leek?
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Christina Georgina

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Re: How to Take a Leek

by Christina Georgina » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:21 pm

Mike, I make vegetable stock when I have a lot of leek tops.
Mamma Mia !
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Jenise

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Re: How to Take a Leek

by Jenise » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:39 pm

Bought baby leeks yesterday! I don't believe I've ever seen them before. Might just grill them.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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