I've always used leeks as an ingredient in a larger dish. They usually play a major role in whatever I'm cooking; still the other night I was staring at the leeks I'd gotten from the little family run grocer in town (possibly the last Ontario leeks I'll see for another year) and I was feeling a little guilty for overlooking the leeks this way and I decided it was time to let them go solo.
The idea of boiled leeks was definitely not making my stomach do a happy dance though and I was feeling a little lost until I remembered something I saw Anthony Bourdain eat in the Azores.
Man, that episode of No Reservations had a serious affect on me - between the pig slaughtering and now this! Man, SeaBass' crew of Portugese fellow carpenter types will be so touched by the impact their cultural traditions have had on his Irish/Newfie lady - or maybe not...they think the pig thing is weird too.
Anyways, during the pig slaughtering ritual Bourdain also enjoys a more vegetarian friendly experience involving fire roasted leek-type onion relations dipped in a red pepper sauce.
So I started with that vision of yumminess in mind.
I did not however have over-wintered onions to pull directly from my soil, nor was I willing to head out into the fast falling early late autumn twilight to start a fire and then roast my store bought leeks in bundles of newspaper (as seen on television), nor did I have any real recollection of what was in the mysterious pepper sauce.
What I did have was a nice bundle of leeks, a warm kitchen with a perfectly capable oven and the makings of a nice romesco sauce. And away I went.
preheat oven to 400 degrees
clean leeks well
toss in olive oil and salt and pepper
place on baking sheet in oven
roast for 20 minutes or more (until they look crispy and kinda burnt on the edges)
*2 red bell peppers (roasted)
**1 head of garlic (roasted) or 3 raw garlic cloves
some recipes call for raw garlic; I thought roasting it would give it a nice sweetness.
1 red chili
1 small banana pepper (if you want a more spicy sauce - I just wasn't satisfied with only the chili)
4 roma type tomatoes (I used canned)
1/4 cup blanched almonds toasted
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (traditionally hazelnuts but I was out)
1 slice stale bread brushed with olive oil and grilled lightly
splash of sherry vinegar
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Throw all your sauce ingredients into a food process or blender and puree until you reach a desired consistency.
I was winging this a little bit so play with the flavours until you're happy.
*To roast peppers:
put on baking sheet under broiler.
Roast and turn until each side is blistered.
Put the roasted peppers immediately in ziploc bag and seal. (The steam will help the skins to loosen.)
After 10 minutes in sealed bag unseal and allow peppers to cool
*To roast garlic:
Cut off the top of the head and remove excess skin.
Place under broiler and roast until you see juices bubbling on top of garlic.
Squeeze the flesh of the garlic out into your sauce mixture.
So this is the point at which I would typically show you pictures of the meal. Yeah, not gonna happen today.
You see, yesterday my dad decided he needed to clean the oven door...more specifically the glass within the oven door.
The man needs a hobby. Suggestions? Please? Before he starts knocking down walls and re-wiring things!
So he took it apart, all by his lonesome, which actually happened rather easily. But here's the thing, when anything comes apart that easily you gotta bet it's gonna be a bitch to put it back together.
Plus there's the fact that we carry the family name Murphy and I'm sure you all know how that goes (if you don't I'd be glad to give you some examples of the kind of luck associated with that name!)
The two of us spent a good couple of hours last night struggling with the damn thing until I finally declared a hiatus before one of us managed to break the damn oven glass...or the other one's neck!
Now we're waiting for SeaBass to get home to make the next attempt. SeaBass is the clearheaded, calm one in the house. Plus, he's just plain better than us. It's endlessly annoying...have I ever mentioned that our elderly next door neighbour worships him and calls him Super Man? I'm not sure why I put up with him.
Oh right, 'cause he's the only one who'll put up with me. Must keep that in mind.
So yeah, I have no oven in which to roast more leeks and show you their charred loveliness (and I'm still not willing to go out in the cold and do the whole fire thing.)
You'll just have to take my word for it that the leeks were deliciously sweet and carmelized. They were deliciously mild and subtle on their own but I really enjoyed dipping them in the romesco sauce, which was also mild but spicy and nutty and a great complement.
There you have it. No more leek guilt. And p.s. I love Anthony Bourdain!
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