Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Culinary Throwdown Challenge - Leeks

It's time again for Chef Troll's Culinary Throwdown Challenge.

Our hostest, Allison, won the last challenge with a salt-roasted pork loin that looked and sounded delicious. As the winner, she has chosen Leeks for this next challenge.

Leeks.

I haven't ever cooked with leeks. I've seen them in the grocery store, I've heard about them and I know they're basically a big green onion but that's about the extent of my leek knowledge.

But I like the idea of going outside of my comfort zone and trying something new so I started reading about leeks.

I found a boatload of recipes using leeks in soup but I wanted to try something else.

We love potatoes au gratin and I saw a Betty Crocker recipe online for a leeks au gratin.

That sounded good so I decided to give it a try and because I'm not Betty Crocker I changed a little here and there to make the recipe work for me.

I bought a bunch of leeks


Sliced them lengthwise and then washed them.

I've heard that leeks are sandy and have to be washed well but I had no idea just how sandy they are. Good grief. I don't bring this much sand home after a trip to the beach.

Once they were washed I chopped them into 1" pieces. Well, most of them were about an inch but it was really a mix of all sizes.


Then I added them to 4 cups of boiling water, lowered the heat to a simmer, covered and simmered for 5 minutes.

While the leeks were simmering I made a basic white sauce (milk, flour and butter)and added a cup of grated Parmesan cheese.


I drained the leeks, folded them into the sauce and then poured everything into a greased casserole dish.


Next, I added 3 tablespoons of butter to 1/4 cup of seasoned bread crumbs, mixed until crumbly and then sprinkled on top of the casserole.



I baked it at 325 for 25 minutes and then put it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the bread crumbs.

Leeks Au Gratin


Success! It was delicious. We loved it. Well, everybody except for the Island Girl who doesn't like anything.

It was creamy and cheesy and the leeks had a nice very mild onion flavor that really went well with the cream.

This is something I'll definitely be making again.

Now wander over to Allison's and see what other leek concoctions people have come up with.

Recipe
1 Bunch Leeks, chopped
2 1/2 Tablespoons Flour
1 1/3 Cups Milk
5 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspon Pepper
1/4 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs

Preheat oven to 325. Grease shallow baking dish. Wash and chop leeks.
Bring 4 cups water to a boil, add leeks, reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain leeks.
Mix flour and 2 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan and whisk til smooth. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper and stir until thick. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Fold in leeks. Pour into casserole dish.
Mix 3 tablespoons butter with bread crumbs until crumbly and sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake for 25 minutes and then put under broiler until bread crumbs are brown.
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