Leeks are lovely. Affordable and abundant they add a delightfully sweet and oniony kick of flavor when added to dishes. Leeks are often unfairly relegated to soups where they add a much-needed dose of flavor. However, whole leeks, when prepared correctly have the makings of an exceptional side dish. The sous-vide cooking process is the ideal way to prepare leeks in a manner that retains all the flavors and pleasant textures of these underappreciated alliums. The precise control of sous vide let’s you cook leeks that are both tender and toothsome with minimal effort and little fuss.
Follow this simple guide to prepare perfectly cooked leeks every time.
Temperature and cooking times for leeks
|Immersion Circulator||185°F||30 Minutes|
In general, vegetables require higher cooking temperatures than meats and other proteins. For vegetables such as leeks, setting your sous vide water bath to 185°F for 30 minutes should be enough to break down the vegetable cell walls enough to get it tender. It is possible to cook leeks and other vegetables at a lower temperature such as 175°F, however, this will require a longer cook time of about 90 minutes. If you’re in a rush you can sous vide leeks using your Suvie’s Slow Cook setting. If you are cooking vegetables using sous vide immersion circulator we recommend cooking the leeks at 180°F for 30 minutes.
Ingredients and Tools
- 3-4 leeks
- Olive oil or butter
- Suvie or immersion circulator
- A large pot (if using an immersion circulator)
- Vacuum sealer and bags or freezer safe recloseable bags
If you’re using a sous vide immersion circulator, pre-heat your water bath to the desired temperature.
Cut off the green portion of the leeks and cut the leeks in half lengthwise down the middle. Don’t remove the root as this will prevent the leeks from falling apart during cooking. Throughly rinse the leeks making sure to remove any dirt that has become trapped between the layers.
Place the leeks in a single layer in a plastic bag. Add salt and olive oil (you can also use butter if you prefer a richer flavor). Vacuum seal the bag, If you’re using a recloseable bag, follow our guide on the water displacement method.
Lower the bag into the water bath and leave until cooked.
If you are using Suvie, place the bag into a Suvie pan and cover completely with water. Place in the top right zone of Suvie and use the following settings:
My Cook > Multi-Zone Settings
Protein: 175°F, 1 hour and 30 minutes
Vegetable: 0 minutes
Starch: 0 minutes
Once the cook is done remove the bag from your Suvie or water bath.
Remove the leeks from from the bag and place on paper towels to soak up any liquids.
Are the cooking temperatures safe?
Our recommended cooking temperatures for Sous vide and Suvie are lower than what the USDA recommends, however, cooking times and temperatures are long enough and high enough for “pasteurization” to make your food safe. The USDA recommendations indicate the temperature needed to instantly kill food pathogens. By cooking for a longer time at a lower temperature we are able to achieve the same effect. However, high-risk populations should use extra caution when preparing foods below the USDA recommended temperatures.
Can I use any type of plastic bag?
You can, however, make sure that they are made from polyethylene. Brand name recloseable bags are made using polyethylene which is a BPA and dioxin free plastic that can safely handle sous vide cooking temperatures up to 190°F. Some generic branded plastic bags are made using cheaper polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which cannot handle high temps and contains chemicals that can leach into food.
Can I leave my food in the water bath indefinitely?
You can, but you shouldn’t. While leaving leeks in sous vide for long periods of time won’t result in overcooking, it will have a negative effect on the overall texture of the vegetables.
Can I cook other vegetables in the same bag as the leeks?
You can! Fortunately, most vegetables can be cooked at around the same temperature (175°F-185°F) so feel free to add other veggies to your leeks. However, avoid mixing the leeks with starchy vegetables such as potatoes as these require either higher cooking temperatures or longer cooking times.