Silky, delicate braised leeks are juicy and light, making them an excellent foil for spicy dishes and fried foods. Broth from braising leeks is an excellent vegetable stock, so keep it for use in soups, stews, and risottos. Remember to wash leeks very well, twice even, as they often contain lots of sandy grit (see “Cleaning Leeks” Tip below).
INGREDIENTS | SERVES 4
- 5 black peppercorns
- 5 parsley stems
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 onion, halved
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 rib celery, sliced
- 4 leeks, cleaned, halved lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Chopped chives or parsley
Combine peppercorns, parsley stems, bay leaf, onion, carrots, and celery in a non-reactive pot with 3 quarts of water and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil; lower to a simmer. Add the leeks; simmer very gently for 15 to 20 minutes, until leeks are very tender.
Remove leeks from the broth; arrange them cut-side up on a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chives.
Leeks tend to trap a lot of earth, sand, and grit in between their layers. It's important to wash leeks twice before using them. For dishes where the leek will be used unchopped (such as Braised Leeks), trim the roots leaving the root core still attached to the leek. Fan through the leek layers with your thumb and middle finger while running the leek under cold, clean water. Repeat several times. Chopped leeks should be submerged in a large amount of clean water, rubbed together with your hands, and then skimmed off. Rinse the bowl of any accumulated grit, and wash the leeks this way again. Make sure to agitate the water vigorously with your hands to dislodge stubborn sand.