Poireaux Vinaigrette

11 05 2009

This is one of those ultra-complicated Classic French recipes. 

Leeks + Vinaigrette...

I kid, leeks vinaigrette are every bit as uncomplicated as they sound.  Two ingredients: leeks, vinaigrette.  (Please, trim, halve, and wash your leeks very well before cooking them.  And I’m saying vinaigrette is one ingredient, because counting the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, etc. as separate ingredients just seems a little nit-picky to me, especially when they are all pantry items.  It’s not like any shopping is required.)  My point is, if you have leeks in the house, you can make this.

Traditionally the leeks for leeks vinaigrette are boiled, but I’ve had some very bad versions of this dish in mediocre cafés, where the soggy, grayish leeks swim in a pool of industrial vinaigrette.  Maybe you have, too.  If so, I urge you to give these a second chance.  I think we’ve all learned some valuable lessons about the comparative merits of boiling and roasting vegetables.  So I roast mine.

... + broiling = delicious side dish

Broil, to be more exact.  I drizzle them with a little vinaigrette (one made with tarragon vinegar and hazelnut oil is nice) both before and after cooking, and voilà, instant side dish!  Don’t tell the French I’m suggesting improvements on their classics, but I bet these would be great on the grill, too, what with summer fast approaching.  Just be judicious with the vinaigrette before cooking – you don’t want drips and flare-ups stealing the show.  And it doesn’t even have to be leeks!  Try this treatment with other seasonally appropriate vegetables – asparagus and green beans are two of my favorite candidates.  Of course, now we’re veering even further away from the original, but it just goes to show that a little technique goes a long way.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.


How To Make Vinaigrette

15 05 2008

Mise en place for vinaigrette

I am often asked for my vinaigrette recipe.  I try to explain that it’s really very simple, and has a tendency to change every time I make it, but people like recipes, so I’ll do my best to transcribe it.  Pictured above are all the necessary ingredients.  I start by mincing a shallot (half a shallot if it’s a big one) and putting it in a small bowl.  Then I add sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a little mustard.  The trick with the mustard is that it acts as an emulsifier, and helps to make a nice, creamy vinaigrette.  I pour a little vinegar over this and whisk to combine.  Next I begin drizzling in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.  It helps to have a bowl with a little grip on the bottom (a dish towel wrapped around the bottom of the bowl will also help to anchor it).  Usually, the dressing will begin to emulsify and become slightly opaque.  At this point I do a taste test and determine whether there is enough salt, pepper, etc.  That’s pretty much it.

For more details and a recipe with actual amounts, continue reading…

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