Braised Leeks with Mustard Vinaigrette

Leeks Vinaigrette

Ticka, ticka, tick, tick, tick…

…sometimes I get these food ideas that just won’t go away.  At least half the time they’re bad ideas and I know they’re bad, but I just can’t live with myself until I see them through.  Ideas like trying out dirty-looking restaurants, having blue cheese for breakfast, or making a dish that involves hard-boiled eggs even though I loathe hard-boiled eggs.  Matt calls it “pulling a Sarah”.

Well, guess what.  Once in a while, “pulling a Sarah” pays off.  Pays off big.

Remember last week when I made a squash and leek galette?  I took a bunch of pictures of leeks that I thought were really pretty.  And then I could not, not, not stop thinking about leeks vinaigrette.  Leeks vinaigrette are a French classic; braised or boiled leeks dressed up with a mustardy vinaigrette and chopped egg.  I’ve seen leeks prepared like this in a hundred magazines, cookbooks, and blogs made by everyone from Julia Child to Molly Wizenberg, but I’d never made them myself.

Why hadn’t I?  Well, who makes leeks?  Just leeks.  Not me.  For me, leeks normally play a supporting role, not the lead.  And more importantly: hard-boiled eggs.  They remain one of the few foods I really cannot bring myself to like.  But I just couldn’t get the image of braised leeks out of my head and rules have exceptions.  Occasionally, exceptional exceptions.

Leeks vinaigrette are one such exceptional exception.  Even though I’d never had them before, they transported me.  I served them as a first course before roast chicken and potatoes and I may as well have been dining in a Parisian bistro rather than my kitchen table in Minneapolis.

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Lemon & Rosemary Roast Spatchcocked Chicken

Lemon & Rosemary Roasted Spatchcock Chicken

It’s difficult to take a photograph that does something as delicious as roasted chicken justice.

It’s difficult mainly because when face to face with a fragrant lemon and rosemary roasted bird, I want to get myself to the dinner table as quickly as possible, not futz around with making a spatchcocked chicken look cute for a picture.  You understand, I’m sure.

Wait.  There it is again.  That word.  Spatchcock.  It was in the title, too.  What does it mean?

You probably already know, I mean you look at food blogs, after all.  But my boyfriend, who is reading this over my shoulder, is wondering what the heck he just ate for dinner.

Spatchcocking is just another word for butterflying.  Sorry to disappoint you with such a simple explanation, but since it’s my favorite way to roast a chicken, I deem it worth sharing.  The backbone is removed and the bird is pressed and flattened.  A spatchcocked chicken will cook faster, more evenly, and allow all of the skin to crisp.  You can roast a spatchcocked chicken in the oven, as I have here, or you can grill it for an even more life-changing experience.  Plus, it’s a funny word for a process that yields a kind of funny looking bird.

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