Leeks, a member of the onion and garlic family, need to be cleaned perfectly so you don’t end up with gritty greens.
How to clean leeks
Remove the root of the leek with a sharp knife and discard. Split the leek down the middle with a sharp knife and rinse the layers. If you are cutting it into slices, cut off the thick green leaves and run the leek under cold running water to untrap dirt. The dark green parts will add flavour to stocks snd soups (remove them before serving) while the light green parts are used as a vegetable on their own, a flavouring in gratins and stews and instead of onions in soups.
How to cook leeks simply in butter
Serves 4 (recipe halves or doubles easily)
2 large leeks, cleaned well to remove any grit
2 tablespoons cold water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Remove the tough green tops from the leeks and discard. Slice the leeks finely, rinse well and drain.
2. Melt the butter with the water in a large saucepan. Add the leeks, season lightly with salt and pepper and toss.
2. Cover the pan and cook the leeks over a gentle heat for 15-20 minutes or until they are soft, checking every so often to make sure they don’t stick. Add a little more water if you need to. Check the seasoning before serving and add more salt and black pepper if required.
– Add 4 tablespoons of single or double cream or creme fraiche at the end of cooking and cook over a gentle heat until the cream thickens. If you intend to cook the leeks earlier, reheat them with the cream just before serving. These creamy leeks make a lovely topping for Sheperd’s Pie.
Quick Leek Gratin using Cooked Leeks
Preheat the oven to 180C. Simmer single cream in a saucepan over medium heat until reduced in half. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Layer cooked leeks in a gratin dish, pour over the cream and sprinkle with grated cheese (Cheddar, Parmesan) or with nubbles of blue cheese and bake until golden for 15-20 minutes.
Use 300ml cream for two cooked leeks and a handful of grated cheese.