Carrots and Leeks

Savory Recipes, Winter • 24 Dec 2011

I habitually make cooking difficult for myself, especially birthday and holiday feasts. Special occasion meals usually involve multiple courses, and oftentimes an architectural diagram outlining ingredients, flavor profiles and plating schemes.

A few years ago I made a somewhat simple meat and potatoes themed dinner for my husband’s birthday. I struggled to select a pitch-perfect vegetable to accompany beef tenderloin with herb-infused butter and potatoes au gratin. He dislikes artichokes (crazy!), we’ve overdone crispy roast asparagus (for shame!), and we deemed broccoli too quotidian for his birthday meal.

We settled on this inspired and elegant braised carrot dish from a 2008 issue of Gourmet Magazine. It is so effortless I make it not only for special occasions but for everyday dinners.

The technique is almost elementary: cook leeks until soft, tender and subtly golden, their sweetness exemplified, their bitterness eviscerated. Add carrots to the leeks along with water and vinegar, simmering until the carrots soften and the liquid evaporates.

It is the perfect side to accompany crispy-skinned roast chicken, to back up a birthday roast or even with a simple salmon en papillote. I gravitate to this dish and it always fulfills my cravings. Vinegar adds a tangy, mouth-puckering kick to the sweet leeks and earthy vegetable. It hits every note.

If you need a last minute quick vegetable to spice up your Christmas or Hanukkah feast, look no further than this timeless, simple and above all, deeply flavorful side dish that might just outshine your protein.

Carrots and Leeks

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound carrots, cut diagonally into 1 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar

1. Halve leeks lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces and wash

2. Sauté leeks in butter with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until softened, 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Stir in carrots, water, and vinegar. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until carrots are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Boil, uncovered, until liquid has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

2 Responses

  1. Amy Turtle

    Thanks Kate, i made these veggies last night and they were delicious-a new staple dish for my repertoire! Lots of Love, Amy xx

    • I’m so glad you like them, Amy. Aren’t they delicious? Probably our favorite way to do a vegetable. Glad my writing is making it all the way to England!

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