A Bouquet of Steamed Vegetables
I had planned to make a potato gratin to serve with roasted leg of lamb for dinner with guests last week, but as I was flipping through Julia Child’s The Way to Cook, her recipe “A Bouquet of Steamed Vegetables” caught my eye. I had all the ingredients on hand, fresh from the market, and I couldn’t resist making it. It involves lots of steps, but the delicious and eye-catching result is worth it.
Following are Julia Child’s instructions, verbatim.
Here you boil-steam the leeks in chicken broth, then use that aromatic liquid to baste and steam first the cabbage, then the carrots. Shortly before serving, they all warm up together in their heady broth, while the potatoes steam by themselves.
Yield: 6 servings, 1 or 2 of each vegetable per person
- 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 large cabbage (about 2 pounds)
- 3 Tbs melted butter, optional
- 12 slim carrots (or larger carrots cut into wedges)
- 12 red-skinned “boiling” potatoes 1 ¾ “ across
Special equipment suggested
- A large skillet or flameproof casserole for the leeks
- A steaming basket and covered saucepan for the other vegetables
- A bulb baster
- A baking dish and foil for final warming-up
Leeks: Trim and wash the leeks, and cut into 8-inch lengths. Drop them into boiling water and boil 2 minutes, refresh in cold water, and drain (to set color). Arrange the leeks in one or two layers, salt lightly, cover by 1 inch with chicken broth, and simmer uncovered until just tender – 10 minutes. Arrange them in the baking dish, leaving the liquid in the pan.*
Cabbage: Cut the cabbage into 6 wedges, remove the cores and set the wedges cut side up in the vegetable steamer. Salt lightly, dribble on the optional melted butter, and baste with the liquid from the leeks. Steam about 15 minutes, basting several times with the liquid in the pan. Arrange in the baking dish with the leeks.*
Carrots: Trim and peel the carrots. Leave them whole if young and tender; otherwise, quarter or halve them. Arrange them in the steamer; cover and steam 1- minutes, or until tender. Arrange them with the other vegetables and pour the remaining steaming liquid over all.*
Potatoes: Scrub the potatoes and shave a circle of skin off their midriffs. Arrange them in the steaming basket and add 2 inches of water to the pan. About 25 minutes before you plan to serve, cover the steamer, turn on the heat; steam them about 20 minutes, or until a small knife pierces them easily.
Serving: Arrange the vegetables around your meat, or upon a separate platter. Boil down their aromatic cooking juices until almost syrupy and either pour them over the leeks, cabbage, and carrots, or add them to whatever sauce you may be serving.
*Leeks, cabbage, and carrots may be cooked ahead; to reheat, cover with foil and place in a 300 degree oven while the potatoes steam. I think it is safer to do the potatoes at the last minute, since they can go off in taste otherwise.
This locally inspired recipe is brought to you by Pam Walker. Pam is an avid home cook, writer, and local farm and food activist who is also a board member of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute. Thank you, Pam, for helping inspire us to use locally sourced ingredients!