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Leeks with Anchovy Butter

Leeks with Anchovy Butter
Kevin Weeks for NPR /

I discovered the wonders of anchovies some 20 years ago when something prompted me to add a tablespoon of anchovy paste to a spaghetti sauce. The results were amazing! The anchovy flavor that I, like so many Americans, disliked disappeared, but the sauce became much richer and deeper in flavor. I've been experimenting with them ever since and becoming more bold in their use. In this recipe you get a faint taste of the fish, but it's a background flavor while the leeks really sing. You can use either oil- or salt-packed anchovies.

Makes 16 servings

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

12 anchovy fillets, drained, rinsed and minced

3 teaspoons minced tarragon

3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

3 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt and ground white pepper to taste

24 1-inch diameter leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise and washed

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except leeks and mix thoroughly.

Tie the leeks into 5 bunches using cooking twine (to keep them from falling apart), add the leeks to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Immerse in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Place leeks cut-side down between paper towels and gently press out excess water. Place cut-side up in a large baking dish.

Spread the butter mixture over the cut sides of the leeks and bake for 5 minutes, or until warmed through.

In advance: Cook the leeks the morning of the event and then assemble dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to roast. Make the butter up to a couple of days in advance.

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