Bacon and Hazelnut Leeks

Why does this happen every year?  By the time the New Year comes, I'm so excited for things to wind down a bit.  I envision a January that's cozy, quiet, and slow-paced.  But that NEVER happens.  I don't exaggerate: NEVER.  This year has been no different.

But it's been okay.  As I mentioned before, I've had some exciting changes happen.  In mid-December I was hired as a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute; I'll be teaching master's level library science students children's and YA literature.  I'm ridonkulously excited.  I'm also doing some consulting work for Scholastic Book Clubs.  Lastly, I just planned a spontaneous trip to California in February: I've been feeling a little homesick for the West Coast and need to head back to the Golden State for a spell.

Part of the reason I think I've been avoiding blogging lately is because I've just been in the moment and going about my day-to-day life.  Frankly, it hasn't occurred to me in weeks to even take a picture of what I'm cooking.  I'm just making it, serving it up, and enjoying time with my family.  But I am coming out of it now, helped along by the fancy new flash I got that will help me take better photos in my dark, dark apartment (Note: the photos below are pre-fancy flash).

And like everyone, I'm paring down post-holiday, trying to make simpler foods that are (slightly) healthier for me...and if they're not healthier, then they're just simpler.  Today's recipe is just that: Bacon and Hazelnut Leeks.  With a cup of heavy cream, it certainly isn't all that healthy.  But it's simple to make, rich in flavor, and even a little bit sexy.

It's probably un-French but I make this 4-serving dish for just me and Adam.  But this is all we eat - I don't make another course.  Served up with some bread to sop up the sauce, it's all we need.

From Laura Calder (French Food at Home)
Serves 4 (or 2, in our house...)

4 medium leeks
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped hazelnuts
4-6 strips bacon, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Trim all but an inch of green from the leeks.  Wash them thoroughly (get in between the layers - they are usually sandy/dirty), tie them in a bunch with string, and plunge them into the boiling water.  Cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes (this cooks them pretty soft - cut down the time if you like firmer vegetables).  Drain and quickly rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.  Drain, remove the string, pat dry, and keep warm.

Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan; set aside.  In the same pan, fry the bacon until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, scraping up any good stick-to-the-pan bits.  Pour in the cream and boil for a minute or so to reduce to sauce consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the bacon and nuts.

Place 1-2 leeks on each serving plate, spoon around the sauce, and serve hot.

NOTE ON KID-FRIENDLINESS: Forget about it.  This is something I dish up after Bug's gone to bed and had a dinner of her own.

WINE NOTE: Hands down, Chardonnay is what you need to be drinking with this.

Eat, drink, and simplify.

P.S. I really do love Laura Calder.  Check out her recipe for Pear Pork here.


Erin said...

Whereabouts in CA will you be?

Unknown said...

I'm a Northern Californian - I'll be in San Francisco very briefly and then the Sacramento area. Major bummer - you're in SoCal, right? I'd so love to finally meet you!!!

Unknown said...

But what about ALA in Anaheim, Erin? Will you attend, or at least do the exhibit floor?