Leeks are a delightful, often under-utilized vegetable, so when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Bianca-Style Leeks I knew that I had to give it a try. The mild onion-like flavor of the leeks was accentuated by a delicate chicken broth and cream sauce. This recipe is easy to make, and very tasty. The leeks make a wonderful side dish, and are delightful with beef or pork.
When I made this recipe, I couldn’t figure out why the leeks needed to be soaked in cold water for half an hour so I skipped that step. I also didn’t cook the leeks as long as called for in the old recipe. A half hour seemed excessive; they were tender after about 15 minutes. I substituted butter for the Crisco, and made the sauce in a separate pan and then added the leeks – it just seemed easier.
Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:
2 bunches leeks (about 4 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt + 1/4 teaspoon
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half
Clean and trim the leeks. Cut crosswise the white and light green parts of the leeks into 2-inch pieces. Place in a saucepan and cover with water; add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until the leeks are tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.
In the meantime, in another pan, using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Gradually, add the chicken broth and half and half while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the white sauce thickens. Add cooked leeks and reheat until the sauce is hot and bubbly while occasionally stirring very gently. Remove from heat and serve immediately.