Comfort Food

Comfort Food

Creamy Leek Sauce

If this column makes you think about the mashed potato mountain in the movie, Close Encounters, good for you!  Anybody who has seen that movie will always identify with the mashed potato mountain that the father made at the dinner table, as he described his intent to go find it!

However, this column is really about the very old leek!  We first find the leek in print in 1598, in the recipe for Cock-a-leekie Soup.  The soup was a combination of chicken, prunes and leeks in a flavorful broth.  It was a favorite of the Bonnie Prince Charles.  We know from Egyptian archaeological digs that leeks are much older than the days of the Bonnie Prince.  Leeks are commonly seen in the agriculture scenes of the art of ancient Egypt.  Dried pieces of leeks have been identified from digs. 
I think it is safe to call leeks ‘vintage’!
In the 1950s, there was a long list of classic soups that were found as the opening course at dinner parties.  Vichyssoise was probably at the top of the list, especially for spring and summer dinners.  Leeks were a prominent ingredient in many of those soups.  The 1950s and 60s are what I identify as ‘vintage’ for the purposes of this food project!   

I’ll do a column specifically about soups later on … before soup season is over … but for now let’s just say that soup was an important beginning to meals, especially in times of economic problems.  Of course, hearty soup is a meal in itself, but even a brothy soup with little other ingredients helps encourage our appetites and fills our bellies with something good before the more expensive foods come along!  Home cooks had all kinds of methods of stretching what they had.  How often did they make broths from ingredients that would have been tossed out?  Fish bones, a chicken carcass, vegetable peels and stems and roots … all make fantastic broth.

Another classic from those mid-century dinner parties uses the old common potato, but makes it anything but common!  Duchess Potatoes, a combination of mashed potatoes, egg yolks, cream and sometimes cheese … graced many plates!  History tells us that this item originated in France, but is named for a British duchess who came to visit!  Fancy!   You can make Duchess Potatoes and top it with my Leek Sauce, but you can also do what I did.  Make mini mashed potato mountains!
Creamy Leek Sauce

Remember to wash your leeks well.  You need to separate the layers and make sure you get any sand or dirt out.  For this recipe, use all the white portion and part of the green portion of 1 leek. Chop the leek into small pieces.

In 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, sauté the leek until soft.  Add 1 tsp. of garlic paste and a couple grinds of fresh pepper to the skillet and add ¼ cup of chicken or vegetable broth.  When this begins to simmer, add ¼ cup of heavy cream.  Let the sauce cook until it is thick, then stir in another Tablespoon of butter to improve the flavor and texture.  That’s it!  

Pour this delicious sauce over your mashed potato mountains!

*If you are using left over mashed potatoes, whip in an egg and a little cream.  Make your little mounds and bake them for about 20 minutes.  You can also put them in muffin cups, so they are uniform in size. If you want a crisp crust, just brush a little butter on them before you bake them.

This post is a part of my Vintage Vegetables project.  If you want to see other similar posts, just  click the Vintage Vegetable page tab.  I'll also be sharing this with a couple blog parties, so make sure you check my sidebar and click through to the parties!

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