|Leeks baked in cream and stock|
Recently I posted on pairing Leeks with Gruyere which, for me is a great combination. I suggested serving up a dish of leeks with a Sauce Mornay - suitably rib-sticking at a time when winter was dragging on. Soon after, unconnectedly, I read someone's remark that such a sauce was an "old lady's cheese sauce". In my book it is a classic sauce, albeit one which I don't make often.
The purpose of this brief posting is to come good on my promise to make a slightly more Spring-like baked leek dish once the temperature rose a few degrees. Leeks have been the vegetable of the winter, for me. Although quite stunted, thanks to the unusually long cold spell, they have proved to be particularly sweet and tender this year. In this crossover period from Winter to Spring produce, they are still very welcome while we wait for outdoor-grown English asparagus, beans and peas. If you've grown your own leeks don't leave them in the ground for too much longer as British overwintering leeks will soon bolt and develop the hard core which marks the end of their season.
This dish is so simple there is no need to give you a formal recipe. It's adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters and it does have a sauce - not a classic but it should be.
Leeks baked in cream and stock
Pre-heat oven to 190C (170C fan oven).
Lightly trim the leeks, top and bottom and remove one outer layer. Slice half way down from the top and wash thoroughly. Drop the leeks into boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes, drain and lay them in a shallow, buttered oven-proof dish. Cover with a mixture of 3 parts double cream to 1 part vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and dot with a little unsalted butter. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes.
A hunk of crusty crusty bread is all this dish needs.