Leek and Pancetta Sauce

Leeks for St. David’s Day!

At least since the 1700s, the people of Wales have celebrated St. David’s Day (March 1st) by wearing a leek in their hats or on their clothes. Why a leek? There’s some story about a battle in a leek-field, but clearly the main reason is that leeks are actually growing and available on March 1st, when not much else is. You can plant leeks in the summer, and they’ll overwinter in the ground getting bigger and bigger, and then you harvest them in early spring. That’s why this recipe belongs to the early spring.

How to make Leek and Pancetta Sauce:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in medium-sized oven-safe frying pan over medium heat. Chop 1/4 pound of pancetta (it’s inbetween ham and bacon) into little pieces and saute in the olive oil. Cut off the white part of two leeks, slice thin (discarding the roots and the green part), and add the sliced leeks to the pancetta. Put the whole pan in the oven and roast for half an hour.

Put the pan back on the stove-top, being extremely careful to remember that the *handle is hot*. Add a cup of white wine, a cup of chicken broth (leftover chicken soup, strained, or a cup of water and a chicken bouillon cube), half a cup of whole milk, half a cup of whole-fat Greek yogurt, and half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Simmer until the flavors blend a little, about five minutes, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, over fettucine, with a green salad, or broccoli, or brussels sprouts, or spinach on the side.

Will leek and pancetta sauce keep?

Not really. It’s better fresh.

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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