Leeks

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Allium porrum, a member of the onion family. Phoenicians are said to have introduced the leek to Wales when they were trading for tin in the British Isles. Sometimes called “poor man’s asparagus”.

According to legend, the leek is linked to St. David because some 60 years after his death, in 640 AD, the Briton King Cadwallader ordered his soldiers to wear them on their helmets when they fought a victorious battle against the pagan Saxons in a field full of leeks. They subsequently gained a great victory over their enemies.

On St David’s day, wherever the Royal Welch Fusiliers happen to be in the world, in peacetime or at war, leeks are worn, and the day observed, as far as possible, as a holiday and leeks are eaten in the Officers’ Mess.The reverse side of the 1984 British £1 coin has an image of a leek on the reverse side.

Suggested Recipe
Leek And Caerphilly Cheese Risotto
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 150g smoked pancetta or streaky bacon
  • 200g leeks thinly sliced
  • 420g risotto rice such as arborio
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 1.2 litre stock
  • 80g mature Caerphilly cheese – freshly grated

Method
Heat the stock in a saucepan until boiling and keep simmering while you prepare the risotto.
Heat the oil in a shallow casserole or saucepan and fry the onion gently until translucent, making sure it does not colour.

Add the bacon, garlic and leek and mix into the onion. Add the rice and stir gently so as to absorb the oil. Fry for 5 minutes then add the wine and cook until absorbed.

Start adding the stock a ladle at a time and cook stirring until it is absorbed before adding more stock. This process should take about 20 minutes after which time the rice should be al dente. Remove the risotto from the heat and add the cheese, mix well then leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.