This vegetable side dish from Argentine cook Jorgelina Mandarina is the ideal accompaniment for any barbecue. Leeks are cooked down over the intense heat of a wood fire until they are soft and tender whilst still holding on to just the right measure of acidity. Peruvian chile panka, jalapeño, and curry leaves provide a welcome punch of fragrant heat that departs from the mild flavors of a traditional Argentine asado. Find chile panka at your local Latin grocery store, or online from Kalustyan’s; if unavailable, a small ancho chile is an acceptable substitute.
Featured in: “The Pescatarian Asado: Reframing Argentina’s Native Bounty.”
Grilled Leeks with Red Chile Sauce
Whole leeks are stuffed garlic and herbs, grilled, and topped with a fiery, herbal chile sauce in this recipe from Argentine cook Jorgelina Mandarina.
Yield: serves 4
For the leeks:
- 4 large leeks (3 lb.)
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 4 rosemary sprigs
- 4 fresh curry leaves
For the salsa:
- 1 medium jalapeño
- 1 dried Peruvian chile panka
- 3 pink peppercorns
- Fine sea salt
- Preheat a grill to cook over medium-high heat.
- Prepare the leeks: Leaving the root ends attached, remove the tough, dark green leek tops, leaving about 2 inches of light green. Insert a paring knife halfway into each leek, just above the root and cut lengthwise, stopping just below the green portion. Gently spread open and thoroughly rinse.
- On a clean work surface, place a large sheet of aluminum foil. Position the leeks on one end of the aluminum foil and drizzle evenly with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, then gently rub the leeks with your fingers to distribute the salt and oil evenly, inside and out. Stuff each leek with a sprig of rosemary and a curry leaf. Top with the garlic, then fold over the edges of the foil to create a tightly sealed packet. Place the packet on the grill and cook until the white parts of the leeks are fork tender, 40–45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the salsa: Place the jalapeño over the grill and cook, turning frequently, until charred all over, 7–8 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then use a sharp paring knife to scrape away and discard the charred skin. Remove and discard the stem and seeds, then coarsely chop.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. In a small dry skillet over medium heat, toast the
ají panka until aromatic, flipping frequently to avoid burning, 4–5 minutes. Transfer the toasted chile to the boiling water and cook until rehydrated and pliable, about 7 minutes. Remove and discard the stem, seeds, veins and any loose outer skin, then transfer to a mortar and pestle. Add the peppercorns and the roasted garlic from the leeks and grind to a fine paste. Stir in a tablespoon of the drippings from the cooked leeks to create a chunky salsa.
- To serve, transfer the leeks to a platter and spread them gently apart . Spoon the salsa over the leeks, then serve hot or warm.