Green beans, rapini, asparagus, Brussels sprouts – I’ve done them all. My holiday menu has to include one green vegetable, and I always struggle to make it interesting. Then I discovered this creamed leek recipe from the Gourmet November 2006 magazine, and oh man is it ever good. The leeks are steamed under a parchment paper and turn out soft and buttery. I used matzah crumbs instead of breadcrumbs on top so that the topping stays crispy providing a nice contrast with the creamy leeks. The best part is – you can make this dish well ahead of time and pop it in right at the end. This one is a keeper.
Put a spin on creamed onions this holiday by using an ingredient from the same family instead. Not only do these leeks bake into something extraordinary, they get you out of the time-consuming task of peeling all those tiny pearl onions.
Yield: Makes 4 servings (you probably need to double this recipe)
Active Time: 35 min
Total Time: 1 hr
3 1/2 lb leeks, root ends trimmed
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from a country loaf, crusts discarded) or use MATZAH!
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
Special equipment: 1 1/2-qt gratin or other shallow baking dish (10 by 8 inches)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Cut each leek into an 8-inch length, measuring from root end, and halve lengthwise, then cut crosswise into roughly 1 1/2-inch pieces. (You should have about 8 cups.) Wash leek pieces in a large bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out and transfer to another bowl. Repeat with clean water, then drain leeks well.
Cook breadcrumbs with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in 3 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and pale golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cut out a round from parchment or wax paper to fit just inside a 12-inch heavy skillet.
Cook leeks with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, leeks covered directly with parchment, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 12 minutes.
Discard parchment and transfer leeks with a slotted spoon to gratin dish. Pour cream slowly over leeks, then scatter bread crumbs on top. Bake until cream is bubbling and slightly thickened and crumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
•Bread crumbs can be cooked 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Scatter breadcrumbs over leeks just before baking.
•Leeks can be cooked and assembled in dish with cream (but not sprinkled with crumbs and baked) 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered.
These leeks are legend (wait for it) DARY!