The Maine Ingredient: Braised Leeks

Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2011 in Sustainable Maine

The Maine Ingredient: Braised Leeks

by Denise Tepler

Our next “Maine Ingredient” is spring-dug leeks. Leeks are a vegetable I usually associate with fall cooking, but leeks, like the carrots featured in our previous column, can be left in the ground over the winter and then dug in spring. I was lucky enough to find a large bunch of them at Six River’s Farm stand at the Brunswick Winter Market.

The rather cool weather we’ve had lately makes a dish of warm, braised leeks especially attractive. Their rich, mild flavor makes them a great side dish with almost any roasted meat, poultry or fish.

Farmers are also featuring more spring salad greens, chard and spinach, and soon we will have the bounty of gathered fiddleheads. Eat well and joyfully!

Farmstand Leeks

Braised Leeks

6 small leeks, mostly white, trimmed of ends, halved lengthwise and well-washed

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Zest and juice of one lemon

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried thyme

2 Tbsps. non-hydrogenated margarine

Leeks in Bowl

Braised Leek Ingredients

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. It is important to clean the leeks very well. Leeks grow mostly underground and when they are dug, dirt adheres to the inner layers in some places. 

Leeks

So after trimming the bottoms and tops and taking off an outside layer, if necessary, cut the leeks in half lengthwise and wash them well, peeling back the layers to be certain you catch any trapped dirt. (Otherwise your dish may be disturbingly gritty – trust me.)

Leeks

Arrange the leeks, cut side up, in a baking pan.

Zest one lemon with a fine grater. 

Lemon Zest

Combine the broth, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Lemon Broth

Pour the lemon/broth mixture over the leeks. They should be mostly covered. Grind fresh pepper over the leeks and dust with the thyme. Dot the leeks with margarine.

Leeks

Place in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and the leeks are very soft and carmelized.  Serve as a side dish. Can be reheated easily.

Braised Leeks

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