Sure the smell of a turkey slowly roasting in the oven is alright, and no one can argue against the sweet smell of a freshly-baked apple pie, but there is one smell out there that outshines everything on Thanksgiving weekend: the smell of leeks boiling in white wine and chicken stock. This family side dish will make your entire house smell like you died and went to wine cellar heaven. Adding a bit of cheese at the end gives the entire side the taste of a fondue (how nostalgic). The only downside to this recipe is that it can induce a lot of hot air (you catch my drift?). So don't say I didn't warn you. Just make sure your dinner area is well-ventilated and that you are not sitting downwind of anyone. This is why we limit eating this delicacy to once a year!
This wine-drenched stock is going to fill your nostrils with happiness. You'll wonder where leeks have been all your life.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a family recipe. My boyfriend's Mom (Margot) came up with it when she was living on a farm in Alberta and had too many leeks to know what to do with. So in honour of her, I call them Leeks a la Margeaux (sounds more French):
Leeks a la Margeaux
A Levine family recipe
2 bunches of leeks (trimmed, cleaned, and then sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (veggie stock if vegetarian)
3/4 cup white wine
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup of coarsely grated Parmesan
1-Trim your leeks and cut the whites in half (length-wise). Soak in cold water, using fingers to remove sand from in-between layers. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces, and then place in pot with chicken stock and wine. Bring to boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the leeks, but make sure to reserve the cooking liquid. Place leeks in a buttered baking dish and set aside.
2-Melt butter in a pan on medium heat and gradually add flour, making a roux. Stir well to avoid lumps, adding your cooking liquid (bit by bit) to make a cream sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce is nicely thickened.
3-Pour finished sauce over your leeks in a baking pan, and cover with freshly grated parmesan. Note: You can add freshly ground pepper for a little extra kick. Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, until the top is bubbly and golden.
I promise you that these creamy leeks will be the most popular item on your entire Thanksgiving dinner plate. Even the cranberry sauce looks like a commoner by comparison.
On a final note of appreciation, I just wanted to give a shout-out to the real stars of Thanksgiving dinners everywhere! So much of what I know about how to whip up a half-edible holiday dish has been passed down to me either from my own mom or my mother-in-law. So thank you Mom, and thank you "Ma" for spending all day actually cooking your respective turkeys so that I could blog about everything but the birds...I owe you both.