Braised leeks create a classic French-style side dish. Using the braising technique, leeks are browned and slowly simmered in liquid until sweet and tender. In the same family as onions and garlic, leeks are a good source of fibre, iron, and vitamins A, B6 and C. They are widely available, but they are typically more prevalent in fall. Leeks grow in sandy soil and need to be carefully cleaned to remove dirt and debris before cooking.
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Things you need
- Kitchen towel
- Large skillet or Dutch oven
- Butter or olive oil
Cut the darker green leaves off the top of each leek stalk. Keep about 2 inches of the lighter green leaves intact.
Trim the roots from the bulbous ends and slice each leek stalk in half lengthwise.
Rinse the leek stalks under cold running water to clean off dirt that may be trapped between the layers of leaves and pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet or Dutch oven with butter or olive oil (or a combination of the two) and heat over the stove's medium setting. Do not raise the heat too high or the butter or oil will start to smoke or burn the leeks.
Add the leek stalks to the pan, with the cut sides facing down, and sprinkle with some salt. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until they are light golden brown on both sides. This is also called "searing."
Pour broth or water into the pan so the leek stalks are halfway immersed. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
Reduce heat to the stove's low-medium setting and cover the pan with a lid. Cook the leeks over low heat -- also called "simmering"-- for about 30 to 40 minutes, turning about every 10 minutes, until they are tender.
Tips and warnings
- Leeks may be braised in the oven rather than on the stove. After adding the broth to the seared leeks, transfer the covered cooking pan into a preheated 400-degree oven to simmer.
- Braised leeks are often seasoned with fennel or mustard seeds, parsley, thyme or lemon. They may also be served topped with Parmesan cheese or a creamy white sauce.
- As a side dish, six braised leeks serve about three to four people.
- Braised leeks make a suitable accompaniment to fish, chicken, steak, smoked pork, or eggs. They also go well with pasta, potatoes, kale, beets, peas and mushrooms.
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