Last night in my Kitchen basics class at create a cook we were working on moist heat cooking.
We made a Cajun Maque Choux stew with chicken and sausage and a steamed Sticky Toffee pudding for dessert but the surprise hit of the night was a vegetable dish I'd adapted from the wonderful book All About Braising by Molly Stevens. Parents wandered in to pick up their kids and they were stunned to find them scarfing down a vegetable dish rather than the sweet brown sugar coated dessert in front of them.
This really is a very simple dish to make, a few minutes prep and then bung it into the oven for an hour and a half. It also incorporates one of my favourite vegetables, the leek. I think many people ignore using leeks because they really aren't sure what to do with them. One of my favourite methods to treat leeks is over here, but I am sure this recipe is going to soon become a favourite in this house as well.
Heat your oven to 325.
Heat up some chicken stock until just before it boils.
Cut the leek where the pale green meets the dark green tops. Discard the tops or save them for stock. Run your knife gently down the length of the leek through 1 layer and peel and discard that outer layer. Slice the leek into 3 inch lengths. Take each 3 inch piece and slice through it lengthwise. Lay each half down and cut half moons about a half of an inch wide.
Scatter all of these pieces in a bowl filled with cold water and slosh them around. Lift out the pieces of leek leaving any sand or grit behind in the bottom of the bowl.
Toss the leeks into a baking dish.
Peel a potato, Yukon gold preferred, but not required. Cut the potato into half inch chunks. Toss these in with with the leeks.
Grab a few thyme sprigs and holding them over the potato and leeks, strip off the tiny leaves by running your thumb and forefinger up the sprig against the leaves. Don't worry if you get a few bits of stem in there as long as they are then tender tops of the sprig and not the tough woody bottoms. Make sure you have at least 2 teaspoons of thyme leaves scattered about.
Season everything generously with kosher salt and back pepper.
Dot the top with 1 - 2 TBS of butter, unsalted preferred, but again not required.
Now depending on how much volume you have of potato and leeks, add about 5 ounces of chicken stock per 3/4 pound potato. You just want some liquid in the baking dish, the vegetables will not be covered just gently swimming in a little puddle.
Cover your baking dish tightly with foil and toss it in the oven.
After an hour and a half, take off the foil and add a splash of cream to the baking dish, if the dish looks very dry, add a tiny bit more chicken stock. Put it back in the oven, uncovered for another 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, check that the potato can be gently pierced with a knife. If the potato are done, take it out, give it a little stir and serve.