take a leek….


The quality of leeks may not be strained but the quantity of them in my kitchen most certainly is. Such a surfeit of leeks would suggest that I am in the throes of creating a celebratory dish for the imminent release of Julian Assange. But the prosaic truth is that I have been overwhelmed by a glut of neighbourly generosity rather than pricked by political conscience.  Is it unreasonable, the leek being part of the onion family, for me to be surprised by its onioniness? But surprised I am and have been: far too often. My expectation of this handsome, even pretty, vegetable is a melting, buttery softness made savoury by judicious seasoning. My benchmark for a well behaved leek would be its performance in a carefully balanced leek and potato soup which, at its best, should have the the character of a creamy potato soup with gentle overtones of leek. Pommes boulangère, a supper dish that I often make, has leeks as well as onion in the recipe  and I have found that I am happier, when making my version of this dish, that the leeks should remain solely as words in the recipe, shall we say a politely ignored suggestion, One’s hopes may well be similarly dashed by the over bearing onion tones of the first tempting mouthful of a beautiful pale green leak tart which had seemed to promise so much more. Had I been hungering for such a flavour I would have made a pungent onion and anchovy pissaladière . However, rail as I may, I have never lost faith in the leek and, aside from cooking them in olive oil and red wine, have found that they react spectacularly well to the slowest of cooking in much more butter than one could ever deem to be wise; this to be done in a good thick pan, with a layer of grease proof paper over the leeks and with the lid on top. A little seasoning of pepper and sea salt and then just wait until they’re right for you. I put a layer of the butter soft leeks into a small eared dish and covered them with some left over mashed potato, over which I grated some Parmesan ( little lumps of Comté or Cheddar would be very good). All this then needs is to be put in the oven until the potato is nicely golden brown with crisp points. This little gem was found nestling unobtrusively at the end of a chapter in my new cookery book “The Kitchen Diaries II” by Nigel Slater.


About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2015, Baking, Cheddar, Cheese, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, gratin, Humour, leeks, Nigel Slater, Olive oil, Parmesan, Photographic Prints, Photography, photography course, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to take a leek….

  1. last night john made leek and potato soup.. I love it.. but this! This I can do.I am such a peasant that anything with mashed potato on top, then cheese then in the oven to go all crisp and brown.. this is my absolute favorite now.. I need more leeks! c

    On Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 7:47 AM, Food, Photography & France wrote:

    > Food,Photography & France posted: ” The quality of leeks may not be > strained but the quantity of them in my kitchen most certainly is. Such a > surfeit of leeks would suggest that I am in the throes of creating a > celebratory dish for the imminent release of Julian Assange. But the > prosaic”

  2. Mad Dog says:

    I love leaks, but sadly I never have leftover mashed potato unless I deliberately make too much. Something I might do this week in order to try your recipe 😉
    If your surfeit becomes overwhelming, there’s a wonderful Marco Pierre White leak terrine here:

  3. Mad Dog says:

    Note my leeak spelling 🙂

  4. This looks so good! I love a leek and potato soup, but I will admit that my experience with leeks outside of this is minimal.

  5. Oh my, I’ll have to try the leeks with the mash on top. And I love the idea slow cooking them in butter. Can’t go wrong with butter.

  6. Gerlinde says:

    Leeks seem to always linger in my fridge because I like to use them in many different dishes. A couple a nights ago I made a white navy bean soup with leeks and duck meat.

  7. I too love leeks, Roger. MTM introduced me.

  8. Oh this is perfect for the shit weather we’re having in London at the moment! This is what I’m going to do with the leeks I bought at yesterday’s farmers’ market. Thanks for the idea, Roger.

  9. Eha says:

    And will you ask the particular guy over for some vichyssoise I wonder 😀 ? The conversation might be interesting tho’ I believe he is not a tidy house guest !!!

  10. Francesca says:

    This looks rather tasty and much easier than a Flamiche, which I really love. Left over mash- is there such a thing?

  11. Why the hell not?! Cheesy, potato-y, leek-y goodness.
    I would eat the heck out of that.
    Nice work my friend 🙂

  12. Everything to like about that. I think braised leeks or any kind of leeks + butter combination is one of those blessed things.

  13. I love leek in a real good quiche with potatoes

  14. catterel says:

    I used to make a leek/potato gratin with Appenzeller cheese when I lived in that canton (you have to be patriotic!) – very simple, like a gratin daupinois. plus rounds of leeks underneath. I’d totally forgotten it – must check if I have the recipe somewhere. Think it had garlic and nutmeg in it too. Went very well with lamb or pork …

  15. “they react spectacularly well to the slowest of cooking in much more butter than one could ever deem to be wise”…wise words Mr Stowell, I cannot argue!

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