Slowly cooking leeks in butter brings out a wonderful clean flavour that matches beautifully with eggs, seafood or chicken. There are many ways to confit leeks, and they are all pretty simple. I like this method in particular for three reasons:
- Once the leeks are on the heat, you can pretty much forget about them until they are done. You don’t even need to stir them.
- You get a gentle caramelisation on the bottom side of the leeks, bringing out some natural sweetness.
- Keeping the leeks in large, long pieces makes the final product as beautiful to look at as it is to eat.
For a twist you can add herbs, such as thyme, but there’s something about the pure leek flavour that I prefer to keep unadulterated.
- 4 leeks
- 50g butter
- 1 tablespoon water
- Trim the roots from the leeks then trim off enough of the green top so they will fit laying down in a medium saucepan. Halve lengthwise, then remove the outer layers until only the tight heart of the leek remains (around 6 remaining layers). Rinse the leek hearts to remove any dirt.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat. (The pan should not be so hot as to brown the butter.)
- Lay the leek halves flat side down in the saucepan, add the spoonful of water and season with a good pinch of salt.
- Cover with a lid and cook gently for 15-20 minutes, until the leeks are soft. Don’t stir the leeks, let them keep their shape while they soften.
- Remove the lid, increase the heat slightly so the butter is just foaming and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat then carefully lift the leeks from the pot to serve. They will be very soft so you need to be gentle to keep their beautiful shape.