*sniff* no YOU’RE crying…
Because lo, behold, the leek, how it’s an allium with less intense raw kick in certain regards (so less actual crying while chopping), and yet, lo, behold, it’s an allium with more nutritional potency than we dare give it credit (insert tears of nerd-like joy)!
I know leeks aren’t often eaten solely by themselves–they lend a wonderful earthiness when cooked in soups, stews, stir-fries, maybe making guest appearances in savory galettes or fritters… but I couldn’t get braised leeks out of my head during the holidays, for no solid reason. Maybe it was from the frightfully cold, cold days here in Minneapolis (with windchill, dipping into the -30s)? What could sound cozier than warming up bellies with braised leeks, tossed with a savory crumble?
Well, let’s do just that, then.
Prebiotics seemed to be the darling of the online alternative health world a few years ago. Then we moved swiftly over to bone broth, then collagen, then back to green banana flour for those prebiotics again, then for the nightshade-friendly, how about that potato starch tho, then keto came back in full swing, then safer skincare, then… well, we’ve got a whole year, 2018! My hope is for more talk about the vagus nerve… but I digress.
What’s up with leeks? Lots.
As someone’s digestive system is ready, incorporating robust alliums like leeks can be a wonderful way to feed the beneficial bacteria in our guts. Leeks especially accomplish this through the fiber inulin, which is a fructan (a type of dietary fiber that some people may avoid if adhering to the FODMAPs style of eating while working with a qualified practitioner). For those ready to be digesting leeks, this inulin can be the precursor to bacteria in our large intestines staying fed and happy (hence, pre-biotic, since they are the kibble for those pro-biotics!)
And never fear, for those whose digestive system may not quite be prepared for the fructan content within leeks, using the leek greens and leaving out the whites, similar with scallion greens, can be a wonderful way to impart that onion-y flavor while skipping out on the fructans (and sure, mostly skipping the prebiotic inulin, but hey, we don’t have to only compartmentalize foods here!). Exposing the leeks to heat also reduces the inulin levels, since as you can imagine, cooking a food breaks down fibers.
But really, that’s part of the beauty of foods–choose what works for you, keep an ear to the ground and inner workings of your system, and notice when systems begin to voice “hey! Hey, I’m ready to play!”
Raise a toast to the braise
My last note for this recipe: braising doesn’t get enough credit these days, methinks! Where else can you both develop a roasty flavor and create a flavorful sauce, all in one pan?
Leave me a comment if you have an idea. For right now, I’ll be slipping into this warm bath of savory coconut cream braised leeks and will be rolling around this pan until April!
No, May. Sometimes it blizzards here in April. May, just to be safe.
Braised Leeks with Savory Pecan Crumble Topping
- 3 medium-sized leeks ends trimmed and greens removed (save greens for stock or other uses!)
- 1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk or heavy cream
- 1/4 cup chicken stock or stock/broth of choice
- 2 teaspoons mustard of choice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter or other fat of choice like coconut oil
Savory Pecan Crumble Topping
- 1/2 cup pecans roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced or grated
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon butter or coconut oil
- In a medium-sized pan, heat butter over medium-high heat. While the butter is melting, slice the leeks in half lengthwise, and gently run each half under cold water to remove any grit or dirt trapped between the leaves, then blot the wet leaves with a paper towel to dry.
- Place the leeks cut side down into the sizzling butter, and allow to brown for 3-4 minutes. I like to place a small pot or other heavy-ish item on top of the leeks to make sure they're in full contact with the butter to brown more thoroughly!
- While the leeks are browning, combine the coconut milk, chicken stock, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Using a fork or tongs, turn each leek over to expose the browned cut side, then drizzle the cream sauce over them to cover. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes with the lid on. Meanwhile, make the Pecan Crumble Topping (see below).
- Take the lid off, take the pan off the heat, and if the sauce isn't quite as thick as you prefer, allow the leeks to cook uncovered for a few more minutes. Otherwise, they're ready to serve!
- Serve leeks with a spoonful of the mustard cream sauce and top with the savory pecan crumble.
Savory Pecan Crumble Topping
- In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the pecans and gently stir every now and then for about 2 minutes.
- Add the grated garlic clove and stir for another minute or so, until the garlic perfumes the kitchen! Then it's cooked.
- Take the pan off the heat and add the salt, pepper and parsley and stir to combine. Move the crumble topping to a small bowl until ready to use.