Braised Leek and Prosciutto Parpadelle

by Nick Benson

This dish is a crowd pleaser. It's also a cook pleaser because it's so simple. It's Italian peasant cooking at its most delicious... simple, full of flavour and texture. I just made this for some friends in Sweden and it put smiles on faces. Its why we cook for people right?

You'll need

  • 4 Leeks
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, finely sliced
  • 1/2 Brown onion, finely sliced
  • 2 Sprigs thyme
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1L Good vegetable stock
  • 8 Thin slices of your favourite Proscuitto
  • Stale sourdough
  • 1 Sprig Rosemary
  • Fresh parpadelle for 4
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

Here's how

  1. First step! Wash the leeks. There is a really easy and effective technique to this - Take a leek, a chef's knife and a cutting board and insert the knife about 3cm from the roots of the leek. Push through to the board and run the knife towards the top. Now you have a leek kinda cut in half but connected at the root. Do the same on the other side so now its in quarters, still joined at the root. Now hold the leek under running water, making sure the water is running from the roots down to the quartered end. Now you have some clean AF leeks.
  2. Slice the leeks at 1/2cm intervals.
  3. Finely slice the garlic, and finely dice the onion.
  4. Take your favourite heavy bottom braising pot, add a small amount of butter and a splash of olive oil. Put on a hob and bring to medium heat. Add the garlic, add the thyme, add the onion. The lower and slower you sauté this stuff the more delicious.
  5. When the onion is translucent add the leeks and continue to sauté. Same rule applies the lower and slower the more delicious. I always add a little more butter at this stage.
  6. When the leek has soften and is looking pretty delicious add the wine and increase the heat a touch. Evaporate off some of the liquid, grind in about a tablespoon of black pepper and add the stock to just cover.
  7. Now with your prosciutto you're going to create a cartouche. This is usually wax paper that sits atop whatever you're cooking to hold liquid. In our recipe we're going to swap the wax paper out for prosciutto. This is a general rule for life, anything you can swap out for cured meat... do it. Lay the prosciutto on top of the leeks so there are no gaps, turn down the heat and let it go! I generally take a one for one policy when using prosciutto, that is to say, buy double and every time the dish gets one you get one. It's worked for me, it should work for you.
  8. That's going to power away for an hour. In the meantime take your old sourdough, grab your food processor. Your going to make a pangrattato to finish the dish with a little texture.
  9. Break up the sourdough into small pieces and add to your food processor. If you want you can add porcini in. I usually don't but its pretty good both ways. Blast that sucker and get some rough breadcrumbs.
  10. Take a small fry pan and melt a couple of knobs of butter with some rosemary. When the butter is ready add the bread crumbs and season. Keep moving the crumbs around, the goal is to get to a dark brown colour. Once they're ready set them aside. Boil a pot of water for your pasta.
  11. Check your leeks, they should be sweet and creamy. Take the pot off the heat and take the prosciutto off the top. Set the prosciutto aside. Season the leaks to taste.
  12. Cook your pasta as per the instructions on the pack. Or if you made your parpadelle a couple of min should do it. Make sure its al dente.
  13. Take your prosciutto, your chef's knife and a chopping board. Roll up your now stuck together sheet of prosciutto and slice it in 1cm strips. Put it back into the pot and stir through.
  14. Take your pasta and drain, making sure to keep a couple of tablespoons of pasta water in the pot. Add your leek and prosciutto to the pasta and mix it all together.
  15. Take your serving plates and plate a small amount of pasta in the centre. Add a small amount of reggiano, cracked pepper and a generous spread of pangrattato. Drizzle some good EV olive oil and serve.
  16. and eat.

About the Author

Nick Benson

Martini, Negroni, 2004 Curly Flat pinot. All eatin', all dancin'. Get me on a stream, catching trout, cooking over a fire for a bunch of people.

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