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Terrine of Leeks
by Charlie Burke

Leeks are a versatile member of the onion family with a rich mild flavor. They
combine in the classic leek and potato soup presented in an earlier column and
can be sautéed, grilled or added to other soups.  

Although they are available throughout the year, they are at their best in New
England in the fall. Most farm stands and farmers’ markets have them now.
Choose leeks with firm, very white bases. Remove the tough outer leaves, but
the tender lighter green leaves are very flavorful.  

I use a chef’s knife and shave away the tough leaves toward the top of the leek,
resulting in a tapered top . Because sand accumulates between the layers, slit
the leeks lengthwise into four sections, starting above the root end so that they
will stay together. Then under running water separate the layers until all the grit
is gone. With a little practice this takes only a few minutes.  

Vegetable terrines require several steps, but none is difficult. We make
asparagus terrines in the spring and use leeks in the fall. Both exude a liquid
which congeals enough to hold them together without the need for adding
gelatin. The preparation is the same.  

Prepare the leeks as above and place into a large pot of boiling salted water
(you will need 4 -5 pounds of leeks). When they are quite tender, drain and cool.
Select a narrow (3 -4 inches) loaf pan and line it with plastic wrap, leaving extra
to cover the top.  

Layer the leeks in the bottom, alternating directions to keep the layers level.
Cover the top with the plastic wrap. The pan will require draining overnight,
and I find a brick or a piece of 2 X 4 cut to the pan length work well. Simply
wrap the brick or wood in aluminum foil, place atop the leeks and invert the
mold into a shallow pan to catch the juices. The weight of the pan and the leeks
compresses the terrine, and the juices run out freely because the terrine is
elevated on the wood or brick.  

When ready to serve, unmold, leaving the plastic wrap on. Slice crosswise
through the plastic using a very sharp or serrated knife. Have a wide spatula
next to the terrine so that you can lay the slice onto the spatula. Place on a plate,
remove plastic, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a light vinaigrette.
This is a great make-ahead starter for dinner and is sure to impress your guests.  

About the author An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the New Hampshire Farmer’s Market Association ( and helps
run the Sanbornton Farmers' Market. Along with his wife, Joanne, he grows certified
organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
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