Braised leeks are incredibly simple and deceptively tasty. They take on a savory and almost meaty texture after braising. While delicious as a side dish, I like to turn them into a simple and nutritious meal by adding a poached egg and a few ounces of shaved parmesan cheese.
Leeks, leeks, leeks. Guys, I seriously love leeks. The milder, more subtle cousin to onions and garlic, most of us home chefs are accustomed to adding leeks into the base of soups and stews, permitting them to impart their delicate flavor without taking over the show. Perhaps we’ll layer them into a gratin or a bread pudding if we’re really feeling salty. And typically that’s as far as we’ll liaise with leeks. But y’all, you’re seriously missing out if you’re not willing to take your relationship with leeks beyond the Netflix n’chill stage. It’s time to rip off the band-aid and elevate your leek game. The truth is that leeks needn’t be wallflowers and can take center stage quite well, thankyouverymuch. This deceptively delicious recipe for braised leeks with poached eggs is going to make you a convert. Pinky promise.
After a nice, slow braise, leeks take on a velvety, almost meaty texture. Since they’re flavor is mild and sweet, they benefit from the flavor punch that comes with adding a knob of good quality butter and a few generous glugs of dry white wine. I finish them off with an herby, lemony pan sauce using the leftover braising liquid. More often than not I make it a meal with a simple poached egg a little shaved parmesan. Simple. Nutritious. Delicious. Everything a whole foods meal should be.
Braised Leeks Recipe Notes
It should come as a shock to exactly nobody that I prefer using homemade bone broth for the braising liquid. You cannot beat the flavor complexity, and the fat and gelatin contribute to an especially tasty finished vegetable. While you’re at it, reach for the really good quality butter, wine, and eggs as well. Kerrygold is available almost everywhere these days and is delicious, especially if you don’t have access to local grass-fed butter. Select a wine that you wouldn’t have been able to afford in college – dry is better than sweet here, and I like Sauvignon Blanc. And if you have access to them, local pastured eggs can’t be beat.
When cooking simply with minimal ingredients, choose the best quality ingredients that you can afford. It will take the flavor experience from good to exceptional, and your belly will thank you.
This recipe takes a bit of time, but it’s not so long that it’s laborious. Most of the work is pretty hands-off. I reach for my much loved 12″ Calphalon cast iron skillet. You’ll want to use a pan that’s large enough to accommodate the leeks in a single layer, and this one gets the job done perfectly.
Fair warning that braised leeks don’t reheat especially well, so in general, prepare what you’re going to consume immediately.
Braised Leeks with Poached Eggs
Braised leeks are incredibly simple and deceptively tasty. While perfect as a side dish, I like to turn them into a simple and nutritious whole food dinner by adding a poached egg.
- 4 small leeks
- 2 tbsp high-quality butter such as Kerrygold
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 c. dry white wine
- 1 c. chicken bone broth or vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1 tbsp parmesan shaved
- chives to taste
- cracked black pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp white vinegar
Prepare the leeks. Trim the dark green leaves from the top and the root ends at the bottom. Peel off the tough outer layer, then slice in half lengthwise. Rinse the interior layers under cool running water to remove any sand, dirt, or grit, then pat dry.
Heat a 12” cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and heat until it melts, foams, and the foam subsides. Add the leeks, cut side down, and saute until lightly browned, 3-4 mins. Flip the leeks and sprinkle with salt. Saute until the uncut sides are lightly browned, 3-4 mins.
Flip the leeks again, and add ½ c. dry white wine to the pan. Saute until the bubbling subsides, about a minute. Add the broth, increase the heat to high, and bring the liquid to a simmer (about a minute). Reduce the heat to medium low, or until the liquid is at a soft consistent simmer. Cover and braise until the leeks are very soft - they’ll be ready when they can be easily pierced with a knife tip, 20-25 mins.
While the leeks are cooking, poach the eggs. Fill a saucepan with about 6 cups of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, line a plate with a few paper towels. When the water comes to a rapid simmer, add 1 tsp white vinegar to the water. Crack an egg into a ramekin. With a spoon, stir the water to create a whirlpool, and then gently tip the egg, whites first, into the center of the whirlpool. Set a timer for 3 minutes and do not touch the egg. When the timer goes off, remove the poached egg with a slotted spoon and place on the paper towel lined plate. Bring the water bath to a simmer again, and repeat the poaching process with the remaining eggs, setting each finished egg aside on the paper towel.
Remove the leeks with tongs and transfer to a platter or divide between four plates. Add the thyme leaves, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the pan juices and increase the burner to medium high. Simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced and the thyme leaves have wilted.
Pour the pan sauce over the leeks, and top with fresh chives, cracked black pepper to taste, 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, and a poached egg. Serve immediately.
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