braised leeks

it's now supposedly 'summer', despite what seattle's weather report says. nevertheless, i keep hoping that my favorite fruits and vegetables will soon make their first appearances at the farmers market. i can't wait for fresh washington berries, apricots, plums, summer squash, peppers and tomatoes. i can't wait!! patience, aubrey, patience. instead, right now, there are leeks... intimidating, huge, time consuming, dirt-filthy leeks. oh, did i fail at making them sound appealing? well, let me add some butter, garlic, thyme and white wine. ah ha! now, leeks sound delicious. 
braised leeks - serves 4
2 large leeks
3 cloves garlic, skinned and crushed
4 tablespoons butter or ghee
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small bunch fresh thyme
1 cup white wine
1 cup vegetable broth
salt, pepper, chili flakes
parchment paper

preheat oven to 350. trim the ends of the leeks, and separate the white stalks from the leafy green sections. cut the white stalk into 2 inch long chunks. if there is any schmuck in the stems, gently rinse with running water but try to maintain the shapes. take the greens, split down the middle with a knife and separate the leaves so that you can thoroughly rinse each leaf. then pile them all up and finely chop them (about 1/4 inch thickness).
skin and crush your garlic and de-stem all of the thyme. heat a large skillet or sauce pant to medium heat, add butter and olive oil, and fry your garlic and thyme until the garlic takes on a very light brown color. do not overcook, otherwise the garlic will turn bitter. add all of the leek greens, and toss to coat. remove from heat.

to assemble, take a 9x9 baking pan (or larger if you are doubling the recipe for a crowd). make a layer of the leek greens mixed with garlic and thyme. tuck in the leek whites - i like to keep mine in neat little rows. pour over with wine and vegetable broth. you want the leeks to be half submerged with liquid, so if you need more liquid, just add at a ratio of 1:1. season with salt, pepper and a pinch of chili flakes if you wish.

finally, take a sheet of parchment paper and trim down to fit perfectly inside of your baking pan. this will act as a layer to keep the leeks from browning but not steam as they would if you put a lid over the pot. this layer will help you retain your liquids a bit more so that you are left with a delicious white wine sauce to spoon out over your leeks and whatever else you might be serving along with your leeks.

bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until all sections of the leeks are fork tender. test a bite of the greens to make sure they are soft and not too chewy. once finished, test for seasoning. add more salt and pepper if you need. garnish with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

this is great alongside meats, potatoes, toast and eggs, or over a bowl of warm grains!

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