Braised Leeks with Meyer Lemon, Pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano

Braised Leeks with Meyer Lemon, Pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano -1

I met my first leek in high school.  I was a senior and the leek was in Julia Child’s Vichyssoise.  I wanted to be an instant convert, but it just wasn’t happening for me.  Potatoes, these funny sci-fi onions, cream, the cold temperature–it was just too far off the map.  Three years later I gave leeks another try.  This time I was a student in Switzerland and the leeks were baked in a gratin with cream and Gruyère.  Whammo!  Direct hit.  The Swiss also love potato-leek soup, hot and cold, so I got plenty of opportunity to endear myself to this long allium.   As a young householder I braised them with chicken stock and cream, while Jody has always been a bit more restrained, using evoo.  As I get older I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to Jody’s side of the fence, ergo this week’s post, Braised Leeks with Meyer Lemon, Pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Tagliatelle with Shad Roe, Pancetta and Spring Peas

Tagliatelle with Shad Roe, Pancetta and Spring Peas-1

The swallows of San Juan Capistrano return to their California mission home every March 19th, one of the natural world’s cyclic wonders.  Nature, however, may have had something rather less dependable in mind with the annual spring running of shadfish.  Last year we posted about shad roe on March 31st.  This year, we’re only a couple of weeks shy of June.  Shad roe is an ephemeral treat, briefly available on short notice, then vanishing, so when the season arrives you have to stay on you toes, prepared to swing into action at a moment’s notice.  I found three seafood stores had the roe… yesterday.  A single purveyor* had it the day I wanted it, one day before blogging.  So if you’re inclined to make this weeks’s  Tagliatelle with Shad Roe, Pancetta and Peas, finish reading this and immediately pick up the phone.  If your favorite fish vendor doesn’t have the roe today, he may be able to get it for you tomorrow.  Next week you might still get lucky, or not.  That’s the way shad rolls.   


Polenta with Pancetta, Asparagus and Shaved Gouda-25

Last week Jody and I were treated to a delicious dish of broiled polenta with mushrooms at the home of friends and we immediately began thinking about a spring variation. Our first impulse, topping it with chicory and fava beans, didn’t work out because fresh favas – or a good substitute – aren’t in stores yet. What is available now is asparagus – and pancetta, and for a new wrinkle on the cheese, Aged Gouda.