Monday, November 30, 2009

Braised Leek and Bacon Tart

This tart definitely ranks among the best dishes I have ever cooked. The tart recipe, along with the braised leeks that went into it, is from Molly Stevens' All About Braising. Having never made a pie crust before, I was worried how well the shell would hold up, but Stevens' instructions worked perfectly. Due to my own clumsiness, it was not the best looking crust, but it was just as flaky and flavorful as any I've had. While I used leftover braised leeks from one of Stevens' recipes, any cooked leeks should work just as well.

Braised Leek and Bacon Tart
from Molly Stevens' All About Braising

For the shell:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 1/2 tbsp butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 to 4 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
For the filling:

  • 4 braised leeks, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp braising liquid from the leeks
  • 3 slick slices bacon, minced and sautéed until slightly crispy
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 2/3 cups half and half
  • 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves, minced
  • ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  1. To make the shell, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and stir to coat with flour. With a fork, press the butter pieces into the flour until the butter is in small, flour-coated bits. Add 3 tbsp of water and stir the mixture. Continue adding drops of water until the dough can hold together. With your hands, form the dough into a 2-inch thick disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to two days.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 13-inch circle. Drape the dough over a 10-inch tart pan. Press it into the sides and corners of the pan, pressing from the center of the crust so that the sides are slightly thicker than the base. Cut away the excess dough that falls over the sides of the pan. Refrigerate the crust for another hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375F. Cover the crust in foil and weigh it down with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the foil from the crust and continue to bake until it is golden in color, approximately 10 minutes. Remove the tart pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Reduce the oven heat to 350F.
  5. To make the filling, whisk together the eggs and creme fraiche until they are well blended. Add the cream, thyme, nutmeg, braising liquid, salt, and pepper and stir well to combine.
  6. Place the leeks in the tart shell. Top the leeks with the bacon pieces, then the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the leeks.
  7. Bake the tart until the filling is set and the top is browned, approximately 40 minutes. The tart can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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