The Clever Way Gordon Ramsay Uses Leek Trimmings In A Bouquet Garni

Cooking with leeks is a lot of fun. They have such a nice, subtle flavor, and you just don't see them in recipes as often as you'll see onions or shallots. Because of their long, cylindrical shape, leeks can be cut and prepared in a variety of ways. They can be thinly cut into small rounds for quiches and frittatas or they can be finely chopped into smaller pieces for soups and salads. You can even cut them in half length-wise, and roast or grill them. 

No matter how you might prepare leeks, there's a bit of trimming that's involved. Leeks are alliums, which means they are cousins of onions, scallions, garlic, shallots, and chives. Similarly to scallions, leeks are sold with the roots still attached to them. So, you need to cut off the bulb before serving. Also like scallions, the tops of the leeks are in need of trimming since they are dryer, tougher, and not as favorable for cooking. 

Still, the tops shouldn't be thrown away just yet.

A second life for leeks

If you're experienced at making sauces, stocks, or soups, you've probably heard of a bouquet garni. For those uninitiated, a bouquet garni is a way to impart aromatic flavor into your broth or sauce. Essentially you bundle specific herbs together with twine and dunk them into your pot until they've done their job. While it is possible to bundle any herbs together for the same purpose in a sachet, a bouquet garni is specifically parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. 

If you have leftover leek leaves after trimming, Chef Gordon Ramsay recommends using the leek scrap to hold your herbs together in a bouquet garni. While chatting with Wired, he answered cooking questions and suggested bundling your parsley, thyme, and bay leaf inside of the leek scrap. Then, you can wrap twine around the leaf and make a little package to drop in your broth, soup, or stew. Leeks have a mild flavor so it's unlikely to make your dish taste different from how you intended and it helps reduce food waste. 

A win-win for everyone!