Leeks are roasted at high temperature before being bathed in broth then braised until silky and sweet. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Abel Uribe

Romance was on the menu, so my friend Pam suggested leeks. Her logic eluded me. Because the leggy vegetables grow layered, like love? Because, as cousins to onions, they provoke tears? Because they’re dirty?

She didn’t explain. I took her recipe nonetheless. It called for blistering the leeks under fearsome heat. Braising them into submission. And serving with salt. Honestly? TMI.

Still, I gave the technique a try. I rinsed the leeks, roasted them brown and basted them tender. They arrived at the table silky, sweet, possibly even seductive.

Though, honestly, not a big hit with my dinner date. The next day, I toasted a slice of sourdough, slathered it with brie, and topped it with leftover leeks. It made a perfect solo snack.

Not romantic. But a singular success.


Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 45-55 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

  • 12 medium leeks
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups hot chicken broth (preferably homemade) plus up to 1½ cups additional
  • Kosher salt

1. Clean: Trim away the root frills from each leek. Trim away the dark-green leaves, leaving the white and pale green portions. Starting at the leaf-end, slice the leek in half, stopping 3 inches from the root-end. Fan the layers of the leaf-end under cool running water to rinse away the dirt and grit that all leeks harbor.

2. Arrange: Choose a roasting pan that will offer your leeks a snug fit in a single layer. A 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan (the sort handy for lasagna) should do. Swirl the butter and oil in the pan. Settle in the clean leeks.

3. Roast: Slide pan into a 500-degree oven and roast, 15 minutes. Pull out pan. Use tongs to turn over each leek. Roast, 7 minutes. Pull out pan, and turn leeks. Pour in 2 cups broth. Roast, 10 minutes. Turn leeks. Roast, 10 minutes. If you started with leeks fatter than 1-inch in diameter, pour in another ½ cup broth and roast 10 more minutes.

4. Serve: If you’re working ahead, let leeks cool. At serving time, pour in an additional 1 cup broth and heat at 500 degrees for 10 minutes. Either way, lift leeks out of their braising bath. Sprinkle with salt. Serve warm.

Provenance: Adapted from “Roasting: A Simple Art” by Barbara Kafka, by way of my friend Pam.

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