If you walk into the front doors of Ford's Filling Station and look the length of the restaurant, the first thing that you'll see, particularly if the sun has gone down outside, is the enormous wood-burning oven that seems to fill the entire kitchen. It's a stunning piece, and it makes the kitchen resemble a smithy more than a gastropub.
Ford uses the oven for most things, including the flatbreads that have been on the menu since the Culver City restaurant opened about 4 1/2 years ago now. He also chars baby leeks on the embers, which he serves with a potent green harissa sauce. Ford credits the initial idea for the sauce to Suzanne Goin (Lucques, Tavern), with whom he's worked both at Chez Panisse and at Campanile. The harissa sometimes also goes with grilled oysters, and on some of the flatbreads. Turn the page for the recipe for both the harissa and the charred leeks (and read our 2-part interview with the chef). No, you don't need a massive oven: your Weber grill will do just fine.
Charred Baby Leeks with Green Harrissa
From: Chef-owner Ben Ford of Ford's Filling Station
Serves: 4 – 6
5 green tomatoes
3 green capsicums
3 serrano chiles
2 cloves garlic, peeled
5 long green chillies, deseeded
3/4 teaspoon caraway
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 lbs. baby leeks or spring onions
1. To make green harissa, place fresh and ground coriander, cumin, caraway seeds, green chilies and spices in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. With motor running, gradually add oil and process to a paste.
2. Build a charcoal fire and let it burn down until you are left with embers. Drizzle spring leeks with remaining oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill until charred and tender, 5-6 minutes.
3. To serve, place the charred leeks on a plate with a bowl of the harissa. Peel the charred layers from the leeks before dipping the leeks in the sauce.