March seems to belong to the Irish. Almost everyone can tell you that St. Patrick’s day is on the 17th of this month, and, while they may not much about the saint himself, they know about the beer poured in his name. About 200 hundred miles east of Ireland is Wales, whose patron saint is the Abbot David. Today is his feast day.
David was a sixth century hermit, whose holiness drew other men to follow him. They lived a rough and simple life, often pulling their plows rather than using oxen. It is said that they ate only bread, water and vegetables, especially the leeks (leeks are related to garlic and onions and look like large green onions) that grow wild in Wales.
In time, David was named a bishop. Many stories are told about him, including the story of his aid to the Welsh defenders when the Saxons invaded their land. It is said that David told the Welsh fighters to put leeks in their hats so each man could identify his allies. To this day, Welsh men and women wear the green leaf of a leek, on March 1 in honor St. David.
Even the non-Welsh can remember good Abbot-Bishop David with a meal featuring leeks. Martha Stewart, who is not Welsh, but who loves leeks, has a good recipe for Braised Leeks. Here it is:
4 leeks, (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
4 cups reduced-sodium canned chicken broth
2 tablespoons cold butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Coarse salt and ground pepper
STEP 1 Remove outer leaves; cut dark-green ends from leeks. Trim roots, keeping leaves attached. Halve lengthwise; rinse to remove grit.
STEP 2 Bring broth to a boil in a large skillet. Add leeks; cover, and cook over medium-low heat, turning once, until easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 25 minutes. Using tongs, transfer leeks to a platter.
STEP 3 Boil broth until reduced to 1/2 cup, 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter; swirl to melt. Add parsley; season with salt and pepper. Spoon over leeks