Dinner:  January 16, 2008

After a couple of late nights at the office which screwed up my meal plan for the week, I was back in the kitchen last night and ready to get back on track. It’s braising season, and while we often turn to that method of cooking for meats and hearty winter greens, I’ve wanted to experiment with other vegetables.

Mike had great success with the braised duck and carrots dish he made over the weekend, and as it happened that dish played a part in our meal last night, specifically, I repurposed some of the braising liquid which we had saved from that dish, added a bit of white wine and grainy mustard, and used it to cook my leeks.

I browned them in a little butter first, then placed them into a baking dish, nestled in a few sprigs of thyme and poured over just enough liquid to come up to the top of the leeks. I placed the baking dish into the oven at 325 degrees until they were very tender and the liquid was slightly reduced, about half an hour or so.

While the leeks were braising, I also crisped up six slices of Prosciutto San Daniele on a Silpat-lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes, turning them once halfway through cooking. To plate, I placed two slices of the Prosciutto down on each plate, topped them with half of the leeks and a little of the reduced braising liquid, and topped each stack with a poached egg and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, finishing with a sprinkling of crumbled Prosciutto.

As experiments go, this was a big success – the leeks were sweet and meltingly tender, the crisp Prosciutto lent a nice textural contrast and welcome saltiness, and the yolk of the egg created a rich and silky dressing that brought it all together beautifully. Mike’s only complaint was that he would have liked more leeks, and I agree. I’m definitely going to make this again, and I’m looking forward to trying it with fennel, endive, and other vegetables.

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