You already know the magic of caramelized onions, those thinly sliced yellow crescents cooked low and slow with butter or oil. But have you ever thought of trying a similar caramelization method with another member of the allium family -- say, leeks? If you can't get enough of sweet caramelized onions, then you'll also love the milder leek after it's been deliciously browned.
Unlike onions, you don't want to cook your leeks low and slow. Doing this can overcook the leeks, which become a mushy mess. Instead, cook your leeks over medium-high heat. They get a quicker browning, which maintains their texture while further developing the sweet flavor profile you want from a caramelized vegetable. There are quite a few different ways to go about browning your leeks, depending on the cut and cooking method you choose, each with their own strengths.
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Ways To Cut And Cook Your Leeks For Caramelization
Leeks resemble green onions, but they are much bigger with stiffer leaves. Before you get chopping, make sure to thoroughly clean your leeks, as they're infamous for holding lots of sand in between their leafy layers. Removing the tougher, harder-to-eat green outer layers is also a necessary step that will help reveal any hidden sand to clean out. After, you can trim off the bulbous bottoms of the leeks and thinly slice them into rounds, similar to how you would thinly slice an onion. These sliced leeks should take about 15 to 25 minutes to caramelize on the stove over medium-high heat.
Another method is to keep the leeks mostly whole and intact, slicing them in half lengthwise while keeping the root attached. Then, you can roast the leeks by placing them cut side down onto a skillet over medium-high heat. Or you can braise your leeks in a roasting pan in the oven with a few tablespoons of butter and oil. Remember, we want to use high heat here for a good browning. Whether you sauté them on the stove or roast them in the oven, make sure to flip the leeks about halfway through cooking, once the cut side is properly browned. Be careful to keep the leeks' many layers together as you flip them.
Seasoning And Serving Your Browned Leeks
Now that you know how to brown your leeks and develop delectable caramelized flavors, it's time to get creative with how you choose to season and serve them. When your leeks are roasting, try adding some fresh herbs along with salt and pepper. Thyme or sage would be a great choice for leeks, as these earthy herbs complement their subtle sweetness.
If you've sautéed the leeks in a pan, make sure to deglaze that pan and scrape up all the yummy browning that's stuck to it. Some examples of great deglazing liquids to use are chicken or vegetable stock, lemon juice, or white wine. From that deglazing liquid you can create a delicious pan sauce. Simply serve the roasted leeks on their own with a wedge of lemon, or offer them as a side to a meat entrée. Use the sliced caramelized leeks as you would caramelized onions, putting them on top of steak, potatoes, sandwiches, or anything else that could use a sweet, zesty bite.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.