I’m in love with Yotam Ottolenghi. I fell under his spell whilst living in the UK, reading his regular piece in The Weekend Guardian. Every recipe sounded delicious and seemed achievable. For the longest while, I thought he was vegetarian until a recipe with mince appeared. His flavours are Middle Eastern, belying his Israeli upbringing – why can’t the countries get along like the flavours? His recipes not only use the seasonings but similarly, there is also a strong use of pulses and grains. I ripped out many, many of Yotam’s recipes from that newspaper over the past few years and now that I am back in Brisbane, I have been recreating some of them.
Whilst many are Middle Eastern in influence, this one is straight out an English garden. I had the good luck to buy a bunch of organic leeks from Stanthorpe at the City Farmer’s Market last week and wonder of wonders, each one was not the size of a pillar at the Parthenon. I knew exactly what I was going to do with them and that was to use one of recipes I’d squirreled away, the one for Braised Leeks.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Braised Leeks with Goat’s Curd
- 8 slender leeks (4 monster size)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 200ml dry white wine
- 250ml water
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to season
- 1/2 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 20g currants
- 1tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp oil
- 100g goat’s curd (substitute: feta)
- 1 tbsp picked chervil leaves
- Prepare Leeks. Discard green tops (save for stock), cut remaining leek in half lengthways (or quarters if you are using the monsters). Rinse thoroughly to remove any traces of grit. When you are done, rinse again as there is always some grit lurking!
- Lay leeks in a large shallow pan add bay leaves, garlic, water, wine, olive oil and seasoning.
- Gently simmer from anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour, turning leeks a few times during cooking. The braised leeks are ready when a knife can be inserted through the middle with no resistance.
- Use a slotted spoon and tongs to transfer the braised leeks to a plate and set aside
- Strain liquid into small saucepan and reduce over high heat until 2 tablespoons of sauce remains. Remove from heat and add vinegar, sugar, currants, onion and add extra seasoning if needed (remember that the curd will be salty). Set aside to mingle and allow currants and onions to soften.
- Wipe out pan and heat oil (canola is fine). Fry the leeks over a medium heat for a few minutes on either side until they brown. They will brown quickly so keep an eye out!
- Place on serving plate, top with crumbled goat’s curd or feta, followed by currant dressing and finish with a scattering of chervil.
- Serve at room temperature as an entrée, a main with chicken or as a lovely Qld Winter Sunday lunch with crusty bread and lashings of wine
As always, I made some modifications:
- I didn’t have any currants so I used dried blueberries, chopped. They worked well.
- I didn’t bother with chervil. Finely chopped parsley worked just fine.
- I scattered home dried pumpkin seeds on the final dish for extra texture. Walnuts would also be nice.