I've also been more mindful of getting as much as I can out of all the wonderful locally produced foods I bring home, and that's included looking at the parts that often get relegated to the stock pot or even the trash bin. I love making good veggie stocks out of skins, tops, and other bits and pieces, and I usually keep a bag or two in the freezer on hand to collect all those scraps. It didn't occur to me to make specific stocks out of just one ingredient (possibly because I have a skinny 'side' freezer, and I have to be creative about the 'stock' items I keep in addition to all my other freezer residents). That was about to change.
|My Tailgate finds for the weekend - those lovely, wide, bands|
of green are my leek tops!
This weekend, I picked up a generous bunch of beautiful leeks, and unlike those I might get at the grocery store, these have not had their green tops trimmed down, so there was a LOT of extra greens. To be honest, to save time I might just lop off the top third (the really green parts) and toss them, saving the rest of the stalk (minus the bulb) for stock. But they smelled so good, and were just so beautiful, I couldn't believe they wouldn't be good to eat with the proper treatment - I knew they could be a great steaming bed or wrapper for fish, and I had seen them used to tie up a 'bouquet garni', but I hoped for more. A quick scan online showed me multiple recipes using leek greens, so I knew I wanted to keep them for something better than 'just stock'.
|Leeks pre-blanche: I wish you could smell this - leek heaven!|
They are a lot tougher, and are more fibrous, than the softer parts near the bulb, so I cut them into smaller pieces and then blanched them. Actually, I'd say I did more of a double or triple blanching - not just a quick toss in boiling water, but more of a simmer for about 5 minutes. I was multi-tasking so ended up letting the leeks cool in the liquid on the stove before draining them into a big bowl.
|I changed my mind - NOW I wish you could smell this!|
So now I have these beautifully softened leek tops, ready for a nice leek tart, or maybe inclusion in a meatloaf, or a curry, or who knows what else? Even better, I have this GORGEOUS leek stock. I really didn't even think about that part when I was simmering away, but just before I was about to drain the liquid into the sink, I got a whiff and realized I needed every drop of this goodness as well. My freezer has an ice maker, so I don't have ice cube trays. I used my popsicle molds so I could get some stock into the freezer for later use. These other two jars will soon become a base for a soup (cauliflower/sweet potato is what I'm thinking right now), and also a braising liquid for other cooking this week.
|I had ideas for several uses of the blanched leek tops - they got a LOT smaller,|
so maybe one really nice tart for the tops, and several uses ahead for the stock!
This recipe is more for an ingredient to be used in another recipe. In short: I cut up the leek tops, put them in a stock pot, covered them with water, and brought them to a boil. I lowered the heat to a simmer and let them go for about 5-7 minutes. They cooled in the pan, and then I drained the leeks, squeezing out the excess liquid, which I retained in jars and molds for the freezer. The leeks were then double bagged, labeled and also headed to the freezer.
I'm sure you'll see them pop up again in another recipe!