Leeks are versatile vegetables and can be added to a range of different dishes. They are full of vitamins and antioxidants and as well as flavor once cooked.
There are many different healthy leek recipes, but one of the best ways to cook leeks is by braising them. Braising, in basic terms, is a method that involves searing the food at a high temperature first, before allowing it to sit in liquid and cook at a lower temperature. Our recipe will guide you through the best way to braise leeks.
We recommend using a cast-iron skillet pan to cook your leeks. Cast iron is perfect for slow cooking as it is able to maintain an even temperature.
Whilst braising may sound relatively simple with the explanation above, it can be quite daunting, especially for those trying it out for the first time. We'll try to answer any questions that may be associated with braising below, and let you know the best sides to serve it up with.
Savory Braised Leeks
- 4-6 leeks
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3-4 tbsp of unsalted butter
- 2 tsp of fresh thyme
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup of white wine or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- Trim the ends off the leeks until you get to the shank. You should aim to remove most of the light green part, although you can leave a small amount on.
- Slice through the shank and stop when you reach the root end. Clean the leeks using cold running water to remove any dirt or grit.
- Cut through the root end to create two long pieces of leek.
- Using a cast-iron skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat.
- Turn the heat down to medium once the butter has melted and/or begins to foam, then add the minced garlic and the leeks. Place the leeks cut side down.
- Cook the leeks for 1-2 min- this allows both the butter to get into them and for the leeks to become light golden.
- Turn the leeks over and sprinkle with salt, before cooking the other side for another 1-2 min.
- Turn the leeks back over, with the cut side down. Sprinkle them with the sugar, the thyme leaves, and a small amount of salt.
- Add some white wine to the bay leaf and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan and cook for between 35-45 min on medium-low heat.
- Uncover the pot and bring the braising liquid to a rolling boil, once the leeks are tender and can be pierced with a knife. Add the parsley before serving
Braised leeks FAQs
The word braising may have you a little nervous, but if you follow the simple instructions in this recipe you will be bragging to all of your friends and family about tackling this cooking method.
Here is a list of the most common question we get about this recipe. We hope these helpful hints will give you a nudge in the right direction if you are still feeling a little less than confident.
What is leek braising?
As touched upon above, braising is a cooking method that involves searing food at high temperatures, before cooking them more slowly at lower temperatures in a liquid later on. The end result is a delicious dish, that is full of taste and flavor.
The first step of braising is to brown the vegetable (you can also braise certain types of meat, including pork, lamb, and chicken), which is done over high heat with a small amount of oil. You then need to cover the contents of the pan - this creates steam, which keeps the food moist. Finally, leave it to simmer on the stove, or alternatively in the oven.
How long does braising leeks take?
Leeks normally take around an hour to braise fully. This includes the opening process of cooking the leeks for 1-2 minutes on each side, before turning over. The simmering process takes around 35 to 45 minutes in total.
What can I make with leeks?
If you are serving braised leeks as a main course, there are plenty of alternative serving suggestions. They are good with any sort of dairy product, including butter, cheese, and sour cream.
You could also use spices or herbs - in this recipe we have used thyme, but you could also experiment with chives, garlic, or sage. Mustard can also be a nice addition.
Vegetables are a great side dish - try carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms.
In terms of sauces, red pepper and cheese sauces are a common and tasty condiment to serve alongside leeks.
How do you cook leeks as a side dish?
Leeks can be utilized as a side dish in a number of different ways. If you prefer an alternative method to braising, boiling leeks is a great idea. They can be included as part of a stir fry, or in mashed potatoes. Or, try sauteing them.
- Heating 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Add in one finely chopped onion and stir for around 10 min
- Add the leeks and cook them on a lower temperature for another 15 min.
What do leeks taste like?
A leek is a plant related to the onion family, and therefore the two share some similarities. Leeks are crunchy and firm with a mild taste when raw. The main edible portions are both the white base of the leaves, and the light green parts.
The dark green part is less commonly eaten because it is less tender than the other sections of the leek, but they can be included in soups or salads. They can be enjoyed in a variety of different ways, whether that be by frying, boiling, braising, or roasting them!
Braised Leeks is a recipe that can definitely be enjoyed by anyone. Not only are our braised leeks recipes vegetarian, but they are full of taste and flavor!
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