Braised leeks are an elegant accompaniment to roasts. The goal of braising is to allow time and very low heat to work their twofold magic of softening the leeks and intensifying their flavor.
That rich glaze is not achieved with fats (this recipe has no fat) but by uncovering the leeks at the end of the braising period and allowing the liquid to evaporate and the natural sugars to caramelize, adding both color and flavor.
Certainly braising takes a very long time. That’s why God made church, so you can have something to do on Sundays for several hours while the leeks braise!
Recipe (serves 4 as a side dish)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 small bay leaf
3 two-inch parsley stems
3 two-inch fresh thyme twigs
salt to taste
1. Wash the leeks, cut off the rooted stem. Cut the coarse green leaves off, leaving the more tender inner ones. Carefully wash out all the dirt from between the leaves.
2. Place the leeks in a large sauté pan and add the chicken stock, water and remaining ingredients.
3. Braising is all about technique. Bring the liquid to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a minimum so that there is only a very slight simmer. Cover tightly and simmer gently for 2 to 3 hours. (I prefer 3 hours) Check periodically to make sure that the leeks do not dry out and burn. Add more water to keep the liquid partially covering the leeks, as in the picture to the right.
4.Uncover the pan and cook on medium heat until the liquid evaporates and the sugars in the leeks begin to caramelize, turn a deep golden brown.
5. Use a spatula to scrape the leeks, intact, onto the serving platter or plates.
All I can say is….so delicious.