Braised Leeks from Berlin

Seared leeks before braise

Leeks are one of my husband’s favorite vegetables, even though he’d never seen one before he’d met me.  That alone suggests that he likes what I cook, and that he’s not a picky eater.  How nice for us, eh?  Thus, when I found this recipe in My Berlin Kitchen, I knew it would be a potential hit.  It’s also pretty easy to do, and as it turns out, is a lovely compliment to braised lamb shanks, which is what I served it with at a recent dinner party.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, due to the timing of the other dishes I served with it (I doubled the recipe and braised this at 350 degrees F for an hour, instead of 30 minutes at 400 F.), but I can say that this was delicious.  I’m guessing that if you can’t find shallots, a large onion and a couple cloves of garlic would be similar.  I don’t have a picture of the finished product, due to dinner party timing, but rest assured that this dish is more than just what it looks like,  though it was a lovely golden brown.

Sauteed shallots for braise

Braised Leeks

from My Berlin Kitchen, by Luisa Weiss

serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 6 large leeks
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1.5 to 2 cups chicken broth ( I used low-sodium)

Equipment

  • cutting board and chef’s knife
  • large skillet or saute pan
  • ovenproof baking dish (gratin dish)
  • liquid measuring cup
  • wooden spoon or spatula
  • kitchen timer

Procedure

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prep the leeks:  Trim the roots, leaving the root end intact.  Trim off the tops, leaving about 2 inches of green.  Cut each leek in half, lengthwise.  Rinse them carefully to remove any grit between the layers.
  3. Heat the skillet or saute pan over medium high heat.  Pour in half the olive oil, and when it gets hot, place the leeks, cut side down, into the pan without crowding them (you may need to work in batches), so they don’t steam.  Sear the leeks for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown (This will take longer than you think. I used a timer to make sure I waited 4 minutes before turning), then turn them over and cook the other side for 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer them, cut sides up, to the baking dish.
  4. Pour the remaining oil in the skillet and set over medium heat.  Add the shallots, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the shallots are beginning to color.  Add the wine and reduce by half.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Pour the mixture over the leeks.
  5. Put the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the leeks are tender.
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