Sunday, 1 November 2009
Leeks have been lurking for centuries in our regional dishes such as cock-a-leekie (made by simmering beef with a capon, leeks and prunes), Welsh mutton pie and Cornish leek pie.
Small and medium sized leeks are best for cooking as they tend to be sweeter and more tender than chunkier ones. To clean, remove the outer leaves, the tough green tops and stringy root. Cut along the length of the stalk, halfway through, and put into a bowl of water; swill around a bit so that any dirt will be washed out of the leafy layers.
Try shallow frying leeks with a pinch of thyme or tarragon, some shredded spinach, and grated carrots or beetroot. Lightly blanched leeks can be baked with ham in a cheesy sauce or added to salads and pair well with seafood.
The Walnut Tree Inn, near Abergavenny, voted best regional restaurant in Wales according to Hardens 2009 restaurant guide, serves poached leeks cold in a mustard dressing with shavings of parmesan and black truffle. Chef Shaun Hill recommends an unoaked Louis Jadot Nuits-St.-Georges pinot noir for its jammy farmyard flavours.
A simple leek and potato soup is a good match for a glass of rose. Eyes peeled then for ex-footballer and winemaker David Ginola’s soon-to-be released Coste Brulade, a rosé from his Provencal vineyard, which won a silver award at this year’s International Wine Challenge.