Eat your alliums! This is one of the lasting messages of Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, for the old mantra of “eat your veggies” just doesn’t cut it anymore. As Robinson points out, not all veggies are created equal, and alliums contain some of the most powerful nutrients and health-boosting qualities you can consume. Garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, shallots — all these can be powerful antidotes to disease.
After reading Luisa Weiss’ (author of The Wednesday Chef blog) lovely memoir, My Berlin Kitchen, I had to try the braised leeks recipe she raves about and shares with her readers (she credits Suzanne Goin). Who knew that leeks could become so soft and scrumptious through a slow braise in the oven? As Luisa notes, “The initial sear gives the leek a burnished sheen, and the oven time turns them into silky wonders.” I couldn’t say it better than this. Enjoy every forkful of these silky wonders.
Silky Braised Leeks
(from Suzanne Goin, as featured in Luisa Weiss’ My Berlin Kitchen)
(Yields 6 servings)
- 6 large leeks
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 cup sliced shallots
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/ 200 C.
- Give the leeks a quick rinse (a more thorough cleaning comes later). Peel any bruised outer layers from leeks. Trim roots, leaving the root end intact, and trim off tops on diagonal, leaving two inches of green. Cut in half lengthwise and clean thoroughly in cool water to remove internal grit. Pat them dry with a towel and season them, cut side up, with salt and black pepper.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Pour in 1/4 cup oil and wait 1 minute. Place leeks, cut side down, in pan without crowding them. Cook in two batches and use more oil, if necessary. Sear them 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and turn over to cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer them, cut side up, to a gratin dish and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Pour remaining 1/4 cup oil into pan and heat over medium heat. Add shallots, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, until just beginning to color. Add wine and reduce by half. Add 1 1/2 cups stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour over leeks, without quite covering them.
- Braise in the oven 30 minutes, until tender. Spoon onto plates with some of the liquid and enjoy.