Jamie At Home with Jamie Oliver
Jamie starts off by showing his huge gorgeous leeks and the patch from whence they came. He points out the white inner layers that haven’t been touched by the sun and the tough green outside layers that have to be cooked longer, but are still “brilliant.” He peels back the outer leaves and takes off the worst of the ends (they go in the compost heap).
To clean them, he holds them upside down by the root (see video below) and slices at them with a sharp knife to loosen and release all the dirt. He tells us to wash them downwards, so the dirt doesn’t get trapped in the layers.
He doesn’t do the pencil point trimming (that gets rid of most of the green ends) that I was taught, but he has fresh leeks that are a lot tenderer at the ends than the ones I usually use.
He’s making the leeks with pappardelle pasta, so he slices them the same thickness, about ½ inch on the diagonal, to match the pasta. He adds a “coupla lugs” of olive oil to a pan with a “good knob of butter”.
“As far as best friends of Mr. Leek (are) concerned – butter and leeks – Brilliant.” Jamie slices garlic, and adds that to the pan. He adds some thyme. Now, this is funny: “Thyme always makes a bit of fuss in the pan,” as the oil sizzles. It’s quite an “attention seeker.” I’ve been accused of that on occasion, so I’m on Mr. Thyme’s side.
Jamie adds the leeks and turns them in the oil and butter. He turns the heat to high and adds a half a glass of white wine with good pinches of salt and pepper. He “boils that up.” 1 pint of stock goes in and that will cook on low for 30 minutes after he shows us a wonderful technique for softening vegetables.
It’s called a cartouche, which is just a round of parchment paper (I ALWAYS use wax paper). Here’s a somewhat complicated video, showing the technique and this instructor tells us it’s used for preventing a skin on sauces or other cooked dishes. Yes, but it’s also used for softening vegetables or “sweating” vegetables to bring out their amazing sweetness. Vegetables that are browned BEFORE they’re softened can be bitter. This is a way of getting every ounce of flavor out of the lowly onion or, in this case, leek.
This is how I do it. I take a piece of wax paper slightly larger than my pot. I crumple it up in my hand. And then I lay it directly over the cooking vegetables in the sauté or saucepan making sure to smooth it down all around the edges. I cover it with a lid, turn the heat down low and leave it for as long as I can. The result is very, very soft sweet delicate vegetables. This is the best way to start any dish that uses onions, which is many of them. When you remove the cartouche, you’ll see how much steam has built up in the pot and how wonderfully that cooks your vegetables.
Jamie takes this to an amazing new level with the substitution of Parma ham for the wax paper. It’s really a brilliant idea that he got from Italian cooks. He lays the thin slices of ham right over the leeks, covers the pot and allows them to sweat for 30 minutes. He says that in Italy they discard it, but he slices it up to add to the dish. Super, super idea! Jamie. He’s really thinking here about how to maximize the flavor of a basically very simple dish. That, to me, is worth the price of admission.
For a topping for the dish, he puts together a pangrattato. I didn't know that's how you say bread crumbs in Italian. AND he puts a fascinating spin on it, as he tells us that “Mr. Leek gets along with Mr. Mushroom like a house on fire.”
He takes a handful of dried porcini mushrooms and, listen to this!, he pulverizes them in the food processor. Yup, he does. No soaking, no liquid, no nothing. He’s going to use them as is and just “give them a wazz” in the processor. That sounds dirty.
He adds a bunch of old bread, salt and pepper and has at it in the processor until the mixture is uniformly crumb-like. Olive oil goes into a sauté pan, with squashed cloves of garlic and a sprig of rosemary. He shakes the pan and throws in a handful of the breadcrumbs and decimated mushies and does a tossy toss with the pan. (Jamie is certainly on top of his game in this episode.)
For the pasta, he’s using premade sheets of lasagna. He talks to us about cooking and getting a fresh pasta flavor without having to make fresh pasta. He likes the idea of cutting the pasta sheets himself. Why bother, he asks? WELL!!! BECAUSE...he explains as he launches into a bit of a diatribe, food is about love and freshness, and anything we can do on the road to completely fresh is a good thing. That’s my interpretation of what he said, anyway.
He began to sound a little brassed off at any potential complaining on our parts about an additional step in the recipe.
He flours the sheets and rolls them up together and slices them just under a centimeter (1/2 inch), “which will grow in the water to just over a centimeter.” It goes into boiling salted for 2 minutes. Cutting the lasagna sheets gives the dish a homemade, slightly irregular, quality.
Jamie turns off the pan with the crumbs and pours it out onto paper towels.
Jamie slices up the ham into long strands and adds them back to the leeks with a handful of parmesan and butter. He drains the pasta and adds it with a bit of the pasta water to the leek mixture. He quickly stirs it together and serves it. Mmmmm. He sprinkles over the pangrattato, “thyme tips’ and a little more parmesan with a drizzle of oil. Jamie tells us when we serve this dish “You will be cleaning up at the dinner party awards.”
Next we see Jamie out in the garden with a mustachioed…friend? Gardener? Neighbor? He shows us treviso, an Italian type of radicchio. He also cuts a huge bulb of fennel from the garden. He bids farewell to the mystery gentleman.
Jamie tells us that when frying, roasting or grilling leeks, they must be parboiled first, so the outside layers don’t burn. Plus, it makes the leeks soft enough to absorb flavors. Interesting. I’ve only ever softened leeks in oil and/or butter before proceeding, so I’ve never had to parboil them.
He pours a bit of olive oil on the parboiled leeks and lays them across the barbecue. He slices the bushy top off the fennel and cuts the bulb in big slices through the stalk and puts them on the barbecue - completely dry. He adds radicchio leaves to the grill, also dry, just to wilt.
Jamie is making a dressing with chorizo. He chops it up a bit and put in a small frying pan with a bit of olive oil and that goes onto the grill.
He starts pulling some of the vegetables off the grill. The radicchio leaves go into a bowl. They look kind of like garbage. “Oh my god, Jamie,” he says to himself,” What have you done? It looks disgusting. He’s gone mad, obviously.” He adds the “lovely” baby leeks.
He shakes the chorizo pan and adds fresh rosemary. He grates 2 cloves of garlic. “This is when it all gets fu-un-nn,” he sings. The garlic goes in with balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon. He stirs it all together and sets it aside.
“All this effort is to sell my mate, Mr. Squid and his four little tentacles.” WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?!! JAMIE DOES and it’s alright with me…
He puts a chef’s knife inside the piece of squid. With another knife, he slices the squid in ¼ inch slices. The first knife means that he can’t cut all the way through and he’s left with a pleated or “concertina” effect. He coats the squid with a bit of olive oil. He slices the fennel tops and throws that on top with salt and pepper. He mixes it all together. He adds oil to a frying pan and puts the tentacles in first and then the cut squid.
He tosses them in the oil for a minute and then into a very hot oven until browned for just a few minutes. The recipe says to preheat the oven to maximum. I’m going to take that as 500°F and say to check it after 3 minutes.
Jamie removes the fennel bulb from the grill and adds it to the bowl with the radicchio. He pours over the chorizo mixture and mixes it well. “Let’s go and get our squidy.” He plates up the squid, squeezes over some lemon and serves up the grilled marinated vegetables. He rips off a few fennel tops and sprinkles them over to add “a bit of fresh” to the robust and grilled food.
Great job, Jamie, I feel as if I learned so much. AND he only did 2 recipes this week, so they’re both on the FN website. Remember they’re permitted to publish only 2 (@#$%^!) of his recipes a week.