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This dish was inspired by a 12 pound tub of Kimes Apiary honey from the main farm I was gifted this winter. The flavor of this honey is phenomenal and brings a lot to the dish. The leeks have an earthy funky note that marries so well with honey. If you don’t have access to the Kimes Apiary honey, look for something that is floral, buttery, and low-key, and not cloyingly sweet for best results. Use these leeks as a starter dish or a side to something braised in wine or vinegar, or something fried like chicken or squid.
1 bunch baby leeks, or 4-6 larger leeks, trimmed of rootlets and greens-if larger leeks are used halve or quarter lengthwise
2 tablespoons high quality, low moisture, butter
2 tablespoons Kimes Apiary honey (or other honey, see headnote)
1-2 tablespoons orange or Meyer lemon juice
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Allow the butter to cook long enough to take on a bit of a nutty flavor. Add the honey and stir in until the honey liquefies. Turn up the heat to medium, and cook until the contents of the pan reduces 25%. Add the citrus juice and stir in. Cook gently until the contents of the pan reduces by 50-60% or until it thickens into a glaze. Add the thyme and stir in, then season with salt and pepper. Taste for balance as needed and adjust as necessary. Keep sauce warm.
Place the leeks into a large steamer and cook until tender all the way through*. Timing on this will be based on how thick the leeks are, but figure 20 minutes as a starting point. If you do not have a large steamer, place a wide bowl into a big pot, fill with water to the top of the bowl, and set a wide plate onto the bowl, then place the leeks onto the plate, then cover with a lid.
Once leeks are cooked, use tongs to transfer them to a shallow rimmed pan and spread them out flat. Drizzle with the honey glaze and roll them around to thoroughly coat.
At this point you can serve them hot or you can cool them in the glaze, rolling them as they cool to coat evenly. If serving them cool, place in the refrigerator until 20-30 minutes prior to serving. You want them cool, or room temp, but not cold. Hot leeks have a brighter more floral flavor profile whereas leeks served cool have an earthier tone.
However you serve them, drizzle with any glaze from the bottom of their pan, and a scattering of salt flakes, preferably Maldon or Murray River.
Chef’s Notes: *Besides steaming, you can blanch or roast the leeks before glazing them. Also, you could add orange flower water to the glaze, of even a very few drops or rose water if your honey is of a more mundane variety. If using rose or orange flower water, you could scatter the leeks with roasted pistachios to make the dish more Indian or Persian.
Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen
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