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.
Enough! Let’s cook.
To prepare the leeks, first trim the root end. Remove a very small sliver of the base so the layers of the leek will hold together through braising. Cut off the dark green tops of the leeks. You’ll be left with white to pale green segments, about 6 inches long. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse with cold water, carefully removing the sand and grit from between the layers.
Melt a little butter and lightly brown the leeks. Splash in a bit of white wine and let the leeks soak it up. Add broth or water to almost cover and pop them in the oven until they are tender. While you wait, assemble your accoutrements: a mustard vinaigrette, minced parsley, and diced hard-boiled egg. You could really deck these leeks out if you want with capers, shallots, maybe some tarragon, crispy bacon…you get the idea. I’m staying pretty basic this time around.
Pull the leeks from the oven. Drizzle them with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with egg and parsley.
Grab a hunk of bread, pour a little wine, and settle in for my favorite kind of dinner: an impromptu trip to Paris, for the price of leeks. And all because I “pulled a Sarah”. If only it always worked out this well.
- 4 Leeks
- 1 Tbsp. Butter
- ½ c. Dry White Wine
- 1 c. Chicken or Vegetable Stock (or water)
- 1 Egg
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
- 1 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
- 2-3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp. Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Cut root end off of leeks and remove the dark green tops. You should be left with about 6 inch long leeks. Cut each leek in half lengthwise and rinse well under cold water, carefully fanning out the layers to remove all the dirt.
- Melt the butter in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Place leeks in the pan, cut-side up. Season lightly with salt and pepper and allow to lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and increase the heat until most of it has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. When the liquid begins to simmer, transfer the pan to the oven and braise until the leeks are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, hard-boil an egg. Place egg in a small saucepan of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cover for 10 minutes. Plunge into ice water for 5 minutes or so. Peel and separate the white and the yolk. Finely chop each and reserve to garnish the leeks.
- To make the vinaigrette, combine mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil until well-combined and emulsified.
- Divide the leeks between plates or put them on a large platter. The braising liquid is delicious- you can spoon some of it around the plates to be sopped up with bread. Drizzle with the mustard vinaigrette and sprinkle with the chopped egg and parsley.