How To Clean Leeks

Two ways to tackle our favorite allium

While onions might serve the as the foundation to many great dishes all around the world, we like their allium brethren, leeks, for their mellower, sweeter flavor. When cooked down with oil or butter over low heat, something the French have been doing for years, they soften and become almost buttery. We like to add leeks to stews, sauces and braises, but they can also be slow-cooked and eaten on their own with, say, with a vibrant mustard-tarragon vinaigrette.

If you're not familiar with leeks, their shape can seem daunting, and you'll probably notice that they pack some grit within their green and white folds. Here are some simple steps to clean them and get cooking:

① Slice off the dark green parts at the top. This section of the leek can be tough and won't cook down easily.

② Trim off the little hairs at the bottom of the leek, but do not slice off the end.

③ Using a sharp knife, cut the leeks in half lengthwise but do not cut all the way through to ensure the leeks stay intact. Make another lengthwise cut to quarter the leeks. Fan the leeks open so that the inner folds are exposed.

④ Fill a large bowl with cold water. Swirl the leeks in the water so that the grit sinks to the bottom. You can also run the leeks under cold water. If the leeks are really dirty, run them under a few changes of water to make sure they're completely clean and grit free.

⑤ Another method is to chop the leeks into whatever shape the recipe calls for and swirl them in water until the grit sinks to the bottom.