Leek & ramsom gribiche – a Spring starter

Leeks were the first crop Guy Watson grew on a substantial scale when he started Riverford and they remain an important staple for us throughout the winter.  By April, the spring warmth has made them bright & sweet and perfect for eating.  Here we pair them with an old French farmhouse larder sauce. It’s eggs and pickle base with garden herbs enhanced with one of the other joys of spring, ramsons or wild garlic.  This starter brings the very best of seasonal veg to the table.

This recipe is a shared starter for 6.

Recipe credit: Patrick Hanna, Head Chef.

Ingredients for leeks:

6 small new season leeks
4 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
10 whole fennel seed
10 whole coriander seed
150ml  dry white wine
1ltr cold water
1 lemon zest
10ml olive oil
Salt, to taste

Ingredients for gribiche:

4 large eggs
100g pickled radish
100g small red onion
50g capers
30g dijon mustard
15ml lemon juice
15ml white wine vinegar
250ml rapeseed oil
40g dill
40g parsley
20g mint
40g ramsons/wild garlic
1g burnt leek powder

Cooking the leeks:

  • Preheat oven to 160c
  • Chop off leek top & ends, leaving on enough root to hold the leek together. Clean thoroughly. Save leek tops for later.
  • Put leeks into an oven dish with bay leaves, spices and lemon zest and pour the water and wine over the top. The leeks should be ¾ submerged. Cover with a cartouche.
  • Tip: Poach the leeks until they are just done. You want a knife to easily pierce but the colour to remain strong. Save some of the liquid for when you are dressing your dish.

Making the gribiche:

  • Drop the eggs into a pot of boiling water and time for 7 minutes. Refresh in iced water.
  • Fine dice the red onion, mandoline the pickled radish, and roughly chop half of the ramsons and herbs. Drain the capers.
  • In another bowl, whisk the mustard and lemon juice together and slowly add the rapeseed oil. Tip: Do this slowly and make sure it is emulsified into a thick vinaigrette.
  • Into a large bowl, grate the egg on the largest setting. Add the onion, radish, chopped herbs and capers. Stir through the vinaigrette.

Chef’s secret:

  • To make burnt leek powder, wash the leek tops, tease apart and bake in an oven at 170c turning until it has deep dark oily colours, transfer to a dehydrator at 52c for 12 hrs, blitz and dehydrate for 12 hrs. Blitz and pass through a sieve.

To serve.

  • Lay the leeks side by side in a large deep dish, spoon a little of the leek liquor and pour a little olive oil on to the leeks.
  • Spoon generous dollops of gribiche on top. Sprinkle a few pinches of burnt leek powder.
  • Scatter the remaining ramsons and herbs over the top, season and make sure there is bread to mop it all up with!

Comments are closed.