Bianca-Style Leeks

creamed leeks in dish

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.

Recipe for Bianca-Style Leeks
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

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:

Bianca-style Leeks

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 bunches leeks (about 4 pounds)

water

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.

10 thoughts on “Bianca-Style Leeks

  1. Leeks are wonderful. Intriguing that the original recipe wanted the leeks to be soaked in cold water before cooking. I suppose leeks went limp when not stored in a cold store or fridge. We don’t have that problem today., of course.

    1. I think that you are probably right about the leeks going limp if not stored in a refrigerator or other cold stop. It makes me thing of how celery sometimes goes limp, and how I occasionally use ice water to “re-crisp” it.

  2. I was curious as to what bianca style was, and wondered also why so much Crisco. Apparently, bianca is white sauce. The cook book came up in my search, and it was published by Proctor & Gamble, and featured Crisco. However, next time I want white pizza, I can sound more sophisticated by ordered pizza bianca. 🙂

    1. I learned something new. I hadn’t known that bianca is another name for white sauce. Thanks for researching this.

      As you indicated, the “Recipes for Everyday” cookbook is a promotional cookbook published by Proctor and Gamble to promote the use of Crisco. According to Wikipedia, Crisco was first made in 1911, and was originally was made from cottonseed oil. It’s fascinating how some commercially produced foods have been around for more than a hundred years.

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