This easy yet elegant French Leek Tart is made with a lovely flaky shortcrust pastry, slow cooked leeks, creme fraiche and just a hint of nutmeg for a simple lunch or dinner delicious served with a dressed green salad and perhaps a handful of French fries.
For the Shortcrust Pastry
- 200g (7 oz) plain (all purpose) flour
- 60g (2 oz) unsalted butter
- 40g (1 1/2 oz) lard (see note)
- sea salt
For the French Leek Tart
- 40g (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
- 4 leeks
- sea salt
- 150g (5 1/4 oz) creme fraiche
- 1 large egg
- freshly ground black pepper
- generous pinch ground nutmeg
- First, make the pastry. Blitz together the flour, unsalted butter (cubed), lard (again, cubed) with a pinch of salt in a food processor until you’ve formed crumbs. Gradually blitz in up to 2 tbsp of ice water until the dough starts to form together and stick slightly.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and using a light touch bring together into a smooth ball. If you’ve added a bit too much water making it a bit sticky don’t worry, just add a little more flour.
- Generously grease a relatively deep (a regular, not one of the skinny ones) loose bottomed, fluted tart tin of approximately 20 cm with an additional bit of butter or lard.
- Flour the work surface and roll out the pastry so that it is just bigger than the tin. Carefully slide the rolling pin under the pastry and use it to lift it over the tin without cracking. Gently let the edges down into the pin, using your fingers to press it into the edges.
- Using a sharp knife on an angle, slice away the excess pastry leaving just a slight lip. Use your fingers to smarten this up, before chilling the pastry case while you make the filling.
- In a large frying pan, heat the butter over a medium heat until frothy. Add the leeks – trimmed, split length-wise and cut into 1cm (just under 1/2 inch) pieces along with a generous pinch of sea salt. Gently sweat the leeks for roughly 30 minutes until very soft stirring often – you don’t want them to colour, and this should only start to happen in the last few minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees (340 fahrenheit) and leave a heavy bottomed baking tray in the oven to heat up.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche, followed by the egg, lightly beaten. Season generously with black pepper and ground nutmeg, as well as a little more salt.
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared pastry case and smooth the top. Place on top of the heated tray and bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is crisp and the top is golden. You’ll want to leave the tart in the oven for the additional 10 minutes to help the pastry case cook through if possible, but don’t risk burning either the top or the pastry.
- Leave for sit for 10 minutes before attempting to remove it from the tin. Serve warm.
Both the pastry case and the filling can be made in advance and assembled just before baking.