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Leeks poached with butter

Serves 6

I have made this lovely, sweet vegetable dish in the autumn for almost as long as I can remember. It originally comes from a book by Marcella Hazan – a truly wonderful Italian cookery writer. These leeks are perhaps the most delicious thing in the whole world when accompanied by a simply roasted chicken – but they are also very good with pork or slow-cooked lamb. Use leeks that are small and firm for their size.

6 small young leeks
1 bunch of thyme
50g/2oz unsalted butter
100g,31/2oz grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Leeks need to be well cleaned as they tend to hold a lot of dirt right down to their root. Using a sharp knife, slice most of the green leaves off the top of the leeks, slice into quarters lengthwise and wash well under running water.

Place the washed leeks into a pan along with the butter and add just enough water to cover. Add the branches of thyme and a pinch of salt. Place over a medium heat, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.

Now remove the lid, turn up the heat slightly and cook without stirring until most of the water has evaporated. Then scatter over the Parmesan cheese and serve seasoned well with salt and pepper.