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Recipe: Leek and Fennel Cream

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Recipes

Leek and Fennel Cream
This relatively simple combination simmers up to a sumptuous and versatile sauce that is far more than the sum of its parts. Michael Orfan presents it under seared scallops, halibut or salmon at his restaurant and also with roast chicken or stuffed into trout. We cooled it and spread some over meaty filets of cod before baking them. Warm, it also makes a stellar stand-in for hollandaise in smoked-salmon eggs Benedict and works beautifully as a pasta sauce to complement sautéed sweet, pink shrimp, as pictured.
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  1. 2 medium leeks (about ¾ pound total)
  2. 1 large (about ¾ pound) fennel bulb, ideally with fresh-looking fronds
  3. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  4. ¼ cup very thinly sliced shallot
  5. 1½ tablespoons very thinly sliced garlic
  6. ½ cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
  7. ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt, 
plus more to taste
  8. ⅔ cup heavy cream
  9. ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  1. Trim root and tough dark green ends from leeks. Slice leeks in half lengthwise and then slice into fine julienne, like thick spaghetti, keeping the pieces as long as you can but don’t worry if some are shorter. Wash well in a colander, working out any sand trapped between layers. Shake dry. Trim stalks from fennel bulb. Finely chop about 2 tablespoons of the fronds and set aside. Slice fennel very thinly crosswise, discarding tough core pieces. You should have roughly the same volume of each vegetable.
  2. Melt butter in a large sauté pan set over medium-low heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not colored, about 5 minutes. Add wine and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until most of liquid has simmered away, about 5 minutes. Add leeks and fennel to pan and toss to combine with shallot and garlic. Add the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened but not colored, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream and reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft and cream has reduced, leaving only a little liquid, about 12–15 minutes. Fold in about 1 tablespoon of the reserved fennel fronds. Season with white pepper and more salt to taste. Yields about 2 cups of sauce, enough for 8–12 ounces of pasta, such as pappardelle, or to accompany four servings of fish or chicken. Use remaining fennel fronds as garnish.
  1. Photo by Ken Burris.
Adapted from Chef-owner Michael Orfan, Rustic Roots, Shelburne
Adapted from Chef-owner Michael Orfan, Rustic Roots, Shelburne
Vermont Life Magazine
Melissa Pasanen

Melissa Pasanen

Contact Melissa Pasanen at and follow her on Twitter at

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