Braising is an easy way to soften up and draw a lot of flavor out of an ingredient. Usually we think of tough cuts of meat such as shoulders or shanks for braising, but how about some vegetables?
I am drawn to leeks, their mellow onion flavor is seductive and slow cooking them through braising coaxes out all the sweet beauty. This recipe goes well with roasted meats or a pasta dish.
Yield: 6 servings
12 medium leeks, trimmed and rinsed well
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumb
Clean the leeks well, like all vegetables, they grow in soil, but leeks just don’t like to let go of their dirty beds. And one small grain of dirt will feel like a boulder in your mouth if you don’t get rid of it. Discard roots and all but 2 inches of the green part; then arrange the leeks in a single layer. Dot with some butter, add some chicken stock and cover tightly with foil. Add some parmesan and bread crumbs at the end.
Heat oven to 400°.
In a medium-size casserole, arrange leeks in one layer. Pour stock and wine over top. Scatter pats of butter over the leeks and season with salt and pepper.
Seal with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil. Return to oven for 10 minutes longer.
In a small bowl, combine parmesan and breadcrumbs. Scatter over top of leeks and bake 5 to 8 minutes, or until well-browned.