These Braised Leeks make the perfect Spring side dish. They have a sweeter, more mild flavor than onions, and are caramelized before being cooked in a butter, white wine, and lemon sauce. You and your guests won’t be able to stop eating them!
There are few things that say “SPRING!” more than leeks. I mean, ok, maybe tulips and cherry blossoms and birds chirping do, but in the food world, leeks pretty much have it. I really feel like we don’t use leeks often enough. They have such a great flavor, much more subtle than onions. Here they are braised, which means they get nicely caramelized before being cooked in a buttery white wine sauce that makes them totally irresistible. This dish is perfect for your Easter table or any Spring celebration.
These Braised Leeks have a sweeter, more mild flavor than onions.
Leeks are really so striking, right? Did you know that in France they are sometimes called the “asparagus of the poor”? Which is odd, because I’m pretty sure they are more expensive than asparagus here in the U.S. I have no idea why, but maybe it is because they are not in such a high demand, therefore are grown less. I like asparagus as much as the next girl, but if I’m being honest I would probably take leeks over asparagus if given the choice.
One thing to know about leeks is that they really need a good bath before you cook them. Because of the way that they grow, they get dirt and grit in their layers that don’t come off with a quick rinse. The best way to clean them is to cut them first and then swish them around in a bowl (or sink) full of water. Gently pull the layers apart while swishing around in the water, and then you can even let them sit in the water for a few minutes. You will be shocked (and maybe a little grossed out?) by all the dirt and grit that sinks to the bottom of the bowl. Then remove from the water and drain on paper towels.
I used a non-stick skillet that has a lid for this. This is an interesting cooking method. You actually spread a little sugar, plus some salt and pepper on the bottom of the skillet with melted butter. Then you cook the leeks cut side down so that they get browned and caramelized. Then you add some white wine, broth, and fresh thyme and cover everything so that it can steam and simmer away in that flavorful sauce. After the leeks are tender, you remove them and finish the sauce with some lemon juice and more butter.
It is a pretty quick and easy side dish, but it is so elegant and it just feels special. Really, butter, wine, and lemon juice can turn almost anything delicious, but when you start with the gorgeous flavor of leeks it can only get better.
Tools I used for this Recipe (affiliate links)
- 3-4 large leeks
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup chicken broth use vegetable broth for vegetarian
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Trim the leeks of the dark green tops, leaving only the white and light green parts. Halve them lengthwise, leaving the root end intact. Place in a large bowl of water and swish around to remove dirt from the layers. Leave in the water for up to 15 minutes, then remove and drain on paper towels.
- Heat a 12 inch skillet that has a lid over medium high heat (See note). Add two tablespoons of butter. When melted, sprinkle sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Add the leeks, cut side down in a single layer. Cook until getting golden brown and caramelized, about 5 minutes.
- Add wine, broth and thyme. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Leeks are done when easily pierced with a knife.
- Remove leeks from pan and cover. simmer remaining liquid over medium high heat until thickened, 1-2 minutes. stir in remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and lemon juice. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper if needed. Spoon sauce over leeks and serve.
Barely adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Looking for more sides? Try this….
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase the items I recommend through the links I provide, I get a small commission. For more info, please see my disclosure policy. Thanks for supporting Fox and Briar!