With the light stretching further into the evening it is only natural to begin to expect a change in the weekly inventory at the farmers markets. Stalls are piled high with the hardiest of veg. There is only so much gratin-ing you can do before the body, sensing the shifting seasons, begins to crave new flavors.
As March roars into town with snow and sleet falling from the heavens it is apparent that things on the produce front at least,will have to wait. In the mean time, there is plenty to be done with what is at hand.
Leeks abound. Their sturdy green fronds flare out between baskets of red onion and ruby beets. It is not often this vegetable takes center stage. Usually it is incorporated into mirepoix or stuffed into a chicken before roasting for added aromatic sweetness. Like their onion cousins leeks can be similarly versatile.
Caramelized leeks for example are an overlooked accompaniment that would pair well with a roasted pork chop or piled high a top creamy risotto or as the base for a Provençal style flatbread. The process mirrors caramelized onions. Start with enough heat to get some color then continue low and slow to give the leeks time to slowly break down.
- Leeks, 1 bunch julienned
- Garlic, 2 cloves minced
- Shallot, 1 minced
- Thyme, 2 T
- Bay leaf
I start by sautéing the shallot and leek. The garlic is added once the heat is turned down to prevent scorching. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Stir the pot and deglaze once with a half cup of white wine. As the dish caramelizes deglaze with stock to prevent burning. The process with take about 45 minutes.
Try pairing one of Austria’s fragrant white wines, Riesling or Gruner Veltliner, with the finished dish. Or, if you can find it be the first to try some 2016 rosé. That first blush of spring will have you dreaming of sweet cherry blossoms in no time.