How to store and prepare leeks

Yield: 1 servings

Measure Ingredient
Do not wash or cut leeks
Until immediately before
Using Wrap them
Loosely in plastic so that
Other foods do not take on
Their aroma. You can
Keep them dry and in a
Refrigerator for as long as
Two weeks with
No reduction in quality.

Do not freeze raw leeks, as they tend to soften, lose their texture and turn bitter.

Leeks are notorious for collecting soil and grit as they grow; therefore, they must be cleaned carefully. Remove withered outer leaves, and cut off and discard upper leaves down to the point at which the dark green begins to pale. Unless leeks are to be served whole, quarter them lengthwise to within 1½ inches of their bases, and gently fan out the leaves. Fill a deep pot with lukewarm water, and plunge leeks upside down into the water several times. If leeks are especially gritty, soak them, or rinse them well in running lukewarm water.

If leeks are to be chopped before using, you can slice or cut them into two-inch pieces before washing. Then swish the pieces around in a potful of lukewarm water. Drain and repeat until no dirt appears in the bottom of the pot.

To clean leeks that are to be prepared whole, slit each down one side to within 1 ½ inches of its base. Then gently spread the leaves and rinse well under lukewarm running water. The leeks will remain whole during cooking; serve them cut-sides down. Braising seems to be the best cooking method for whole leeks because it allows them to retain their texture and flavor; however, they can be steamed or boiled, too.

Leeks are inexpensive wherever they are grown, except in the United States because, here, blanching the base and part of the leaves requires costly manual labor. Although they are available year-round, peak season occurs in fall and winter.

Choose leeks that are well blanched from their bases upward to at least two inches, preferably three inches or higher. They should have tightly rolled leaves and crisp, fresh-looking green tops. Small and medium leeks are more tender than larger ones. Versatile, subtly flavored leeks-- and only leeks--elevate the following and many other recipes to luxury status.

Source: The National Culinary Review April '95 From: Sherree Johansson Date: 05-25-95 (159) Fido: Cooking

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