Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jamie At Home: Episode 6, Leeks

Jamie Oliver is finally back in his garden, and this time he’s surrounded by some pretty big leeks. I love leeks. The flavor is milder than onions but not as sharp as spring onions. He says leeks are underrated. I’m surprised to hear that because like I said, I love them and use them often as a base for soups or stews. Does anyone else think it's weird that he names all his food “mister”? (i.e., “Welcome to Mr. Leek.”)

Pappardelle and Slow-Braised Leeks

Jamie has cut some huge leeks and is talking about washing down to get all the grit out. (I personally soak my cut leeks to make sure all the sand is wash away.) He has four leeks and slices them the same thickness as the pappardelle he plans on using. He puts some olive oil in a sauté pan along with a nub of butter. He says butter and leeks are brilliant because they both have the same texture that’s, well, buttery. He adds three cloves of thinly sliced garlic and some fresh thyme. He throws in the leeks and coats them with the oil and butter, beginning the braising process by adding half a glass of white wine and a pint of vegetable stock.

Jamie brings out these beautiful parma ham prosciutto, which he uses to create a thin layer cover over the cooking leeks. He does this instead of using parchment paper (although I bet parchment paper would be cheaper) to trap the steaming effect and keep the leeks moist while it cooks for 30 minutes.

Jamie’s using a lot of French terms in this episode, and I can’t catch them all. But he says something about making a pan of bread crumbs. He cuts up some stale bread and the in his food processor pulses some dried mushrooms (he says if you can use porcini, they’d be good) and throws in the bread pieces. In a pan, he warms olive oil and infuses it with two cloves of garlic and a rosemary stick. Then he adds the pulsed bread crumbs (not all of it, just a handful) and toasts them in the pan.

Here’s his cheat about making pasta: Instead of using freshly made pappardelle, he buys the pre-made sheets of lasagna. Now, you’re thinking, why not just buy fresh pappardelle pasta? Jamie’s already ready for this question and starts talking about cooking as heart and soul and love. He says he cooks because he likes to be happy. And I guess he’s saying he’s happy when other thinks he’s made hand-made pasta by giving it that rustic home-made look by cutting up lasagna sheets. Jamie thinks cutting up fresh lasagna sheets may take you one step closer to making your own pasta. Hmm, I don’t think so, but nice try Jamie.

He adds the “hand-cut” pasta to a pot of boiling water.

Jamie starts to put together the pasta dish. He takes the prosciutto off his leeks and cuts them up and throws them back with the leeks, adds freshly grated parmesan and some butter, then gets his pasta and throws it into the leeks and stirs everything together, mixing all the cheese, butter, and pasta water. He finishes the dish off with his pan-toasted bread crumbs along with more grated parmesan. He says you’ll clean up in the dinner making awards with this dish. (Complete recipe on the Food Network site.)

Concertina Squid with Grilled Leeks

He’s back in the garden with someone that he doesn’t really introduce. I’m assuming he’s the gardener. James gathers some greens from his garden, including some Italian radicchio that looks huge like turnip leaves. He also gathers some fennel, all for a grilled vegetable salad for the winter.

Jamie’s cooking at his wood garden and says he’ll be making a “trendy” dish. (The complete recipe posted here.) He steamed his baby leeks for about five minutes and coats them with olive oil and salt and pepper, then places them onto a grill.

Also on the grill his thinly cut fennel bulb and radicchio leaves (he places these without any oil, just dry).

He starts making a warm dressing for his salad by cutting up a chorizo sausage and fries the pieces in a pan to render some of the fat, which he’ll use for the dressing. (BTW, he places the pan right onto the coals. That’s some hot heat.)

He removes the grilled vegetables and he says (jokingly) that they look miserable. He says you might think he’s gone mad. Never, Jamie.

In the pan of frying chorizo, he adds some chopped rosemary, garlic and then some really thick balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice. He stirs everything up.

For the salad, he’s serving it with squid, so Jamie gets the squid out and shows a trick using two knives. He sticks one knife into the body of the squid piece, and then uses the other knife to score the squid. He calls this the concertina cut, I think? Again, he’s using a lot of fancy terms that I don’t catch. Either way, this is a very Spanish dish but he says he couldn’t get anything like this in Spain so he made it himself. He drizzles the squid pieces with olive oil and fennel greens, season with salt and pepper, and throws them onto a preheated pan and puts it in the wood oven to roast.

Jamie looks like he’s going to combine everything for his final dish, but he puts all his wilted vegetables into a bowl, while on a cutting board he puts the squid with a bunch of vegetables on the side. I’m a bit confused about this presentation, but that doesn’t matter to Jamie, who calls it “flipping brilliant.”

Huh, only two dishes in this episode? Jamie’s slacking off. Hopefully he’ll make an extra dish next week.

Jamie At Home airs on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. on the Food Network. Visit Jamie’s Web site at More on the accompanying book for the series here.


Simply...Gluten-free said...

Don't you just love Jamie! I Tivo his show and watched this episode twice. And did you catch his egg episode? Flipping Brilliant!

Single Guy Ben said...

Yes, I loved the egg omelette salad. So sexy.

Tool4TheMan said...

Jamie Oliver and his contagious enthusiasm single-handedly reinvigorated my passion for cooking. My only problem is that he often won't post his best recipes to the website for his show. I have bought some of his cookbooks, but I don't want to buy them all.