Leeks, a leeky subject
Leeks, what would a French winter be like without them? A long and lonely one! Bon Lecture and I've added TWO recipes for your cooking enjoyment.
By – Anne Dessens for the Charleston Gazette, 2002
‘What’s a leek?’ you might ask. Good question. It was one that I asked myself many years ago when I first came to France.
But my question was worded in French. What is a poireau? Well, as you know poireau is French for leek. Now that we’ve learned our vocabulary, what is it?
A vegetable for one thing. I had never seen or heard of a leek before popping over to France where this vegetable is used regularly.
Leeks are part of the onion family. In fact, it resembles a large green onion. It’s milder than an onion and doesn’t breakdown as much when cooked as does an onion.
So, if you like onions but have never tried a leek. Then, you have some trying to do.
Once I discovered leeks, I began cooking them all the time. My enchantment with the vegetable has taken on realistic proportions. But now that it’s leek season, my love for the vegetable is back.
Yes, leeks are a fall vegetable. You can purchase them almost year round but the best ones (the ones during peak season) are slim and long. The fatter they are, the stronger and more bitter they are.
Below is a classic French recipe for leek pie (tarte aux poireaux) and leek and potato soup. These recipes are commonly seen on the French dinner table between October and March. They are wonderful French home cooking recipes that I just had to pass on to you readers.
Leeks are wonderful gently sautéed in olive oil or butter. Gently sauté them for 20-25 on medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. Salt and pepper to taste and serve along side any meat or fish.
The French refer to this as fondu de poireau (leek fondu because the leeks are cooked until they are almost melted-fondu).
You can add some sour cream at the end of the cooking time for a little sauce to go with your meat. This is as good with grilled chicken (or chicken cooked with the leeks is another option) as with salmon steaks. It’s probably the best way to try leeks for the first time.
To clean these mamas, cut off the stringy end; remove any brown or dried green leaves or tips; slice down middle and run under cold water to remove any sand or dirt. Chop and slice as desired.