On the theory that we are better off planting things in our urban kitchen garden that otherwise cost us an arm and a leg to purchase elsewhere, we planted leeks this year not knowing how they would do. But would you look at these beauties? Tomatoes were a bust in this, the hottest year on record in the District of Columbia. But leeks did not even blink. They’ve thrived without any intervention at all from us, other than to keep them well-watered.
I planted these leeks from seed in a trench I dug about six inches deep and 20 feet long. I dug up enough soil to fill a garbage can, which I stored in the belief that I would at some point be mounding the soil later around the leeks to blanch the stems. Well, I haven’t mounded any soil, and the few leeks that we’ve pulled so far have been beautifully blanched with long, white stems. I do believe these leeks will continue to grow and mature straight into fall. I’m not sure what to expect from them in our D.C. winter, but I am just as inclined to let them stay in the ground and store themselves there until we’re ready to use them.
Today was our first clear need for the leeks we’ve grown. I had brined a beef tongue in the usual fashion and it was now ready to cook. To a large, heavy pot, add one large onion cut into eight wedges, two carrots cut into short pieces, two stalks celery also cut into short pieces, a head of garlic sliced in half, 12 peppercorns, a handful of fresh thyme sprigs, and two large leeks trimmed cleaned and cut into short lengths.
Place the beef tongue on top of the vegetables, cover everything with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook slowly for three hours. When the tongue has cooled enough to handle, you can peel away the tough outer skin. I love it for breakfast with fried eggs.