Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nothing to cry over.

In my Jan 27, 2011 blogpost, "Comfort is never overrated.", I gave you my recipe for "Potato Leek Soup", and leeks are primarily used in soups. However, this relative to the onion, and asparagus, is more versatile than one might think. Due to its mild onion flavor, a leek can be substituted for a regular onion; cutting it will not irritate the eyes either.

Leeks have a small bulb end; and the tastiest part is the white part which grows deep in the ground, and away from the sun's rays. The green upper part is very fibrous, and used for making stock; or thrown into the compost pile. Growing in the ground has the desadvantage of having dirt caked in between the many layers of the leek, so it needs to be thoroughly washed before use. The best way to do this is to cut the white part either into circular sections, or cutting it up into pieces, placing it all in a colander and washing under cool water.

The pieces can than be used in soups, quiches, casseroles, side dishes; anything an onion can be used for. Sauteed in butter or olive oil, they turn translucent and release a pleasant onion scent that is easy on the nose, and most especially, the eyes.

The recipe for today is an example of the versatility of the leel. Enjoy!

Potato and Leek Casserole with Meat
4 cups thinly sliced, unpeeled and parboiled russet potatoes
2 cups cooked ham, or beef kielbasa, cubed
1 large leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 tsp each dried parsley, paprika and sea salt
¾ tsp ground black pepper
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
8 Tbsp butter
2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Spray a 2 qt casserole dish with non-stick spray.
In a small skillet or saute’ pan, melt 2 Tbsp butter, add leeks and saute’ till soft and translucent.
In a small bowl, mix together parsley, paprika, salt and pepper.
In the casserole dish, build 2 layers of potato with meat, leeks, herb/seasoning mixture and cheese; dot with 4 – ½” Tbsp of butter.  There should be a 3rd layer of potatoes which will have only the remaining herb/seasoning mix and butter on it.  Pour the cream over the potatoes.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 6-8 servings.

Mary Cokenour