Although leeks are not usually served as a stand-alone dish, braising brings out wonderful rich flavor and makes this simple vegetable side shine.
Braised leeks recipe
6-7 medium-sized leeks
2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup finely grated cheese (such as Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino romano)
Trim the ends and dark green leaves from the leeks. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise. Place the leeks in a bowl of cold water and soak for 10 minutes. Rinse the leeks well to remove any remaining dirt that is trapped in the layers, but leave the leeks intact.
Heat the butter or olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Place the leeks in the pan in a single layer, cut side down and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the leeks over and cook on the other side until lightly browned, another 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add sprigs of thyme. Turn the leeks back over so that the cut side is down.
Preheat the broiler.
Pour the wine into the pan and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan, then add enough water to just cover the leeks. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the leeks are tender when pierced with a knife. Most of the liquid should have evaporated by this time; if not, pour any excess water off.
Sprinkle the cheese over the leeks. Place under the hot broiler until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown. Remove from the heat and serve.