Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Creamed Leeks With Parmesan Crumbs

This is Fall comfort food at its simplest. The leeks come out of the oven very hot and the topping is delicious and comforting. If you've never had leeks before, this would be a nice first-way to experience them. If you've only ever had cream of leek soup, take this as an opportunity to branch out!

I did have a little trouble making this. I melted my butter in a small pot, then put most of the leeks in and realized they wouldn't fit. So I dumped them into a larger pot. Which of course meant some of the precious butter got left behind. Noooooo!!!: not the butter!!! And of course, then I couldn't melt more in the big pot because the leeks were in there. Sadness ensued.

Also, it took me a while to find the Parmesan cheese in the fridge as it wasn't where I'd left it. I thought I would start crying. Okay, I admit it: I did start crying. I may also have banged my fist on the floor. Maybe. I cry over the little things, did I ever tell you? And what with the less-sunlight of Autumn, my meltdowns will become worse. But I digress. Anyway, I'm sure it's nothing that more butter can't help. Or maybe my mood-enhancing 'daylight' lamp.

As it turned out, I couldn't find the Parmesan because I was ahead of the game and had already taken it out. And irrationally left it on my chair when I went to check the recipe. The Parmesan I dug out of the fridge, thereby ending my tears, was a second one. Yep, it turns out there were two.

The moral of the story is: always use the right size pot, erring on the side of too big. It is also a good idea not to abandon your ingredients in stupid places.

2 medium sized leeks (I suppose mine were a bit large)
1/2 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
generous pinch pepper
generous pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon half-and-half (10% cream)
1/4 cup panko crumbs
2 tablespoons grated / shredded Parmesan cheese

you'll also need:
oven-proof baking dish / casserole (medium-individual sized)
medium-to-large sized pot with lid
heat-proof spoon
small bowl
baking sheet lined with foil (optional)

1. cut the root end and dark green parts off the leeks and wash them thoroughly, making sure there is no dirt in the layers, because otherwise it's neither tasty nor sanitary. Cut them in half width-wise, then chop into pieces about an inch big.
2. melt the 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, salt, pepper and nutmeg, stirring to coat. Put the lid on the pot and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

3. meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450F. Melt the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter in the small bowl and mix it with the Parmesan cheese and panko crumbs. Stir until moistened.
4. when the leeks are ready, transfer them to the baking dish and pour the cream over them. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top.
5. place the dish on the cookie sheet for easy cleanup, and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the topping is browned and the cream bubbles.
6. enjoy your leeks warm from the oven, but be careful: those suckers are pretty hot! This made 2 servings.

I adapted this recipe from one I found in the magazine Woman's Day.

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