Warm leeks napped on smoky bacon cream with the crack of nuts in their bite is one of the first things I start craving when I sniff the air, suddenly frost edged, and know that autumn is striding through, with winter barking at her heels. Now this is one of those recipes that should never be corseted by recipe form, because leeks come in all sizes, and this means that you may need more or less bacon, more or fewer nuts, plus or minus a glug or two of cream. So toy with the amounts; they’re not absolute. To help with your planning: In the case of baby leeks, estimate two to three per person; with medium narrow leeks, as I indicate below, one per person is fine; and if you should find yourself facing leeks of thuglike thickness, peel off a few outer layers to narrow them down, and then halve lengthwise once cooked, planning one-half per person.
1Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Trim all but an inch of green from the leeks. Wash them thoroughly, 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. Drain and quickly rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Drain, remove the string, pat dry, and keep warm.
2Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan; set aside. In the same pan, fry the bacon until crisp; 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. Stir in the bacon and nuts.
3Place 1 leek on each serving plate, spoon around the sauce, and serve hot.
This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.