Leeks are beloved in our house. We get very excited whenever leeks arrive in our CSA boxes or show up at the farmer’s market. If you have never had leeks they have a mild onion-y and garlicky flavor that is really delicious. You can finely chop, saute, and add them to soups, quiches, or strata. Or, you can do what we do… slow roast them with a little butter until they are melt-in-your-mouth soft and delicious.
This is how we make leeks 90% of the time. It is one of those recipes that is exceptionally simple and uses only a few ingredients but elevates the leeks from a supporting player to a stand-alone side dish. I know there are other culinary options out there but this is so darn good that we keep coming back to it. Why mess with perfection?
A note on prepping leeks: they tend to be very dirty and gritty because of the way their concentric rings push up through the soil when they are growing. To help combat this, cut them in half lengthwise and soak them, cut side down, in a deep bowl of cold water. Don’t be afraid to let them soak for at least 20-30 minutes. Then remove the halves and rinse under cold running water (I like to separate the leaves at the ends just a little bit to make sure all the grit is rinsed out). Pat dry before cooking.
Slow Roasted Leeks
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
12 slender leeks, white and light green parts only halved lengthwise, well cleaned (it is helpful to leave the barest sliver of the base intact to help the leaves hold together)
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 tbls unsalted butter
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add the leeks in a single layer, cut sides down, cover and bring the stock back to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.
Carefully remove the leeks, draining out the excess stock (reserve the stock for another use such as soup or to make mashed potatoes to serve alongside your leeks). Pour about 1 tbls of the butter into a large baking dish and spread around. Place the leeks in the baking dish, cut sides up, and drizzle with the remaining butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place the baking dish in the oven and roast, uncovered, until the leeks are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 40-60 minutes.
Serve immediately drizzled with any pan juices that remain. Serves 4 as a side dish.