With Scottish leaks entering their peak season, Tom Kitchin provides delicious recipe to properly enjoy the readily available vegetable

  • 1 hour 20 minutes
  • 4
  • Medium
ALTHOUGH they are available all year round, leeks are at their best from now until around March. Leeks can be rather harsh eaten raw, but when you cook them, they transform and bring out a lovely, sweet and delicate flavour. When buying leeks, size is a good indication of flavour – the smaller, baby leeks tend to be sweeter and less stringy. The way in which you cook leeks is also key. If you cook them in the right way for just the right amount of time, it can help you avoid any of that tough, bitter and harsh flavour that can put some people off. The secret is to make sure they are soft and thoroughly cooked. Chargrilling, roasting, pan frying or confit leeks work best. What I love is the fresh, natural soft green colour they bring to an dish. Leeks are so tasty, versatile and great value for money, they should be a staple in your fridge this autumn.

Ingredients

  • For the leeks
  • 8 young leeks
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 50g butter in pieces
  • For the mackerel pate
  • 250g smoked mackerel
  • 100ml whipping cream
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp of chopped dill
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon confit diced or lemon rind
  • To serve
  • 4 quails’ eggs
  • 4 small beetroot – cooked and sliced
  • sprigs of pea shoots
  • sprigs of chervil
  • 20g toasted buckwheat

Method

To make the smoked mackerel pate

Place the smoked mackerel, whipping cream, lemon juice and chopped dill into a blender and blend. Add a teaspoon of lemon confit and keep blending until you achieve the consistency that you desire. If it still seems too firm, you can add a little more cream and lemon juice. Remove and place in a bowl.

Season well with the cracked black pepper but remember to go easy on the salt as the smoked mackerel is already salted. Set aside.

To cook the leeks

Heat the oven to 160C/Gas Mark 3. Remove the outer leaves from the leeks and trim the root end, being careful to keep it intact as this will hold the leek together during cooking. Make two lengthways cuts through the top third of each leek to access any grit, then wash the leeks thoroughly. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Lay a large sheet of strong foil in a roasting tin. Place the leeks side by side on the foil, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter over the thyme sprigs and garlic cloves, and dot with butter. Lay another sheet of foil on top then fold the edges of the two pieces of foil together to create a sealed parcel. Bake for 1 hour or until the leeks are tender.

To cook the eggs

When the leeks are ready, bring a small pan of water to the boil and cook the quails’ eggs for just two minutes. Plunge into ice cold water to stop them cooking any further, then drain well and peel off the shells.

To serve

Place two confit leeks on each plate side by side. Place a quenelle of smoked mackerel pate in the middle of the two leeks on each plate. Chop your quails’ eggs in half and place on the leeks, along with the sliced beetroot. Sprinkle the toasted buckwheat over the top and garnish with pea shoots and chervil.

About The Author

Tom Kitchin

Tom Kitchin is a Scottish chef and owner of restaurant The Kitchin, where he became the youngest winner of a Michelin star. He has previously worked with several Michelin starred chefs including Alain Ducasse and Pierre Koffmann.

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About The Author

Tom Kitchin

Tom Kitchin is a Scottish chef and owner of restaurant The Kitchin, where he became the youngest winner of a Michelin star. He has previously worked with several Michelin starred chefs including Alain Ducasse and Pierre Koffmann.