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  • Lydia Gerratt

Leek and bacon tart (Flan de poireaux et lardons)



I spent the weekend looking for some inspiring cold weather recipes that would be seriously delicious and use British seasonal ingredients – as seasonal is about abundance, it should therefore be cheap!

I can always count on Elizabeth David, one of my all time favourite food authors, to come up with something simple and divine. Her recipe for this northern French flan de poireaux uses diced ham rather than lardons. I would have used ham, but I suspected that the ham used in France 60 years ago for this dish is the hugely flavoursome, rich, dry ham that I find almost impossible to buy these days. The sort of ham that is sold in wonderful little delis, is cut by hand and costs a fortune.

The version I made is a combination of Elizabeth David’s classic flan de poireaux and the updated French versions with lardons.

I knew the flan was going to be good when I pulled it out of the oven golden and steaming. There is something about the creamy mild oniony leeks, salty lardons and big mouthfuls of richness from the double cream that make this dish ‘so delicious’ as Atticus, my 4 year old, exclaimed after his first mouthful.

Miraculous ingredients: smoked bacon lardons, Burford Brown eggs, leeks

Leek and bacon tart (Flan de poireaux et lardons)

Ingredients

For the pastry (you can use ready made short crust pastry)

125g plain flour

60g unsalted cold butter

1 egg

1 or 2 tablespoons of very cold water

a pinch of salt (do not use salt if you are making this recipe for your weaning baby as well)

For the filling

6 leeks, the whitish-green part finely sliced (not the dark green leaves)

25g unsalted butter

200g smoked bacon lardons

3 egg yolks (Burford Browns have lovely yellow yolks and lots of flavour)

300ml double cream

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

20cm pie tin, greased with butter

Method

For the pastry, sieve the flour into a large bowl; add the cold butter cut up into small pieces and a large pinch of salt. Use your fingertips to crumble the butter into the flour until it resembles very large breadcrumbs, almost the size of small peas. Be a lazy slap dash cook with the pastry, the less you work it with your fingers and leave lots of visible large pieces of butter the better the pastry will bake. Large pieces of butter will make the pastry flaky, moist and crumbly.

Mix the egg in a separate bowl and add to the flour and butter gently bringing all the ingredients together to form the dough. If the mix is dry add a tablespoon or two of very cold water. Don’t over work the dough (otherwise the texture when baked will be tough and hard), just bring everything together to form a soft ball, wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C and prepare the filling.

Put the lardons in a small frying pan and fry until most of the fat has melted, approximately 5 minutes.

Melt 25g unsalted butter in a saucepan over a low heat and add all the finely sliced leeks. Stir to coat the leeks with butter and let them slowly cook and soften, this will take about 20 to 30 minutes. The leeks are ready when they melt in your mouth. Mix the lardons into the cooked leeks.

Pour all the double cream into a measuring jug, add the egg yolks, grindings of black pepper and some sea salt. Mix well.

Take the chilled pastry out of the fridge and roll it out thinly enough to cover a 20cm pie tin. Prick the surface with a fork and then add the leek and lardon mix directly onto the pastry. If there is a lot of liquid in the leek saucepan, try and squeeze the leeks with a wooden spoon before spooning into the pastry case to remove as much of the liquid as possible, otherwise the flan will be soggy. Next, pour the cream and egg mixture over the leeks and lardons and place in the oven for 30 minutes (fan oven).

The flan is ready when the top is a golden brown. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving with a simple green lettuce salad dressed with a few squeezes of lemon juice and your very best extra virgin olive oil.

Preparation time 30 minutes, cooking 1 hour, serves 6

#Seasonalingredients

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