Sunday, April 17, 2011

Leek Love

Ed and I have a lot in common - we both love strong cocktails, Eddie Murphy's stand-up routines, novelty junk food (we had simultaneous joy attacks upon discovering Hubig's snack pies in New Orleans) and watching Billy the Exterminator late at night on A&E... but our most convenient shared love at the farmer's market is the humble yet glorious leek.

Braised leeks are a crazy good accompaniment to a roasted chicken. They take about the same amount of time to cook - assuming you're roasting a smallish chicken - and their flavors are totally complimentary. They're also equally easy to make - right after you dress your chicken and pop it in the oven, you can slice your leeks in half lengthwise, wash them really well to get rid of all the sand and dirt between their layers, sear them in a mixture of melted butter and olive oil, then add a generous splash of white wine, a few cups of chicken broth and some thyme and pop them into a 400-degree oven for... you know, a while. An hour, maybe? Then plate them together and dig in!

Tender, yielding, mildly flavored braised leeks next to a juicy, salty roasted piece of chicken? That's love right there. Each piece brings out the best in it's partner - the sweetness of the leeks makes the chicken more savory, and the crunch of a well-roasted piece of chicken skin makes the soft layers of leek even more delicious and amazing.

Speaking of leeks - and love - ramps are back in season! Ramps, those tasty little wild leeks, are once again at the Greenmarket, their leafy green tops heralding the beginning of spring. Last year I made this ramp and poached egg spaghetti dish, which I made again this year for Ed and I on a lazy Saturday evening. (This time, I sprinkled the top of each dish with this super cool red Hawaiian sea salt that my friend Liz gave me. How cool does that look?)

As we sat side by side on the couch, twirling our spaghetti and letting the soft egg yolk coat each strand, Ed was like, "You know what would make this even better? Red pepper flakes."

Reader, I'll be damned if he wasn't right. A little something spicy is exactly what this bowl of luscious pasta needs - something to cut the richness and add a little bit of edge.

And that's love right there, too. A little bit of comfort, a little bit of fire, all in one cozy little bowl.

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