I saw some beautiful, massive leeks at market last week. The white part was particularly large. I knew I wanted to caramelise them and pair them with some of my home made, honey cured bacon. This recipe is what I came up with.
I had a chat with the good folks at Leaning Oak Dairy to find the perfect accompanying goat cheese and settled on their goat feta in brine. I wanted something with tang, and this also had a salty kick. Then all I needed was some fresh thyme. Recognising you will not likely have dry honey cured bacon at home, you could substitute shaved prosciutto or pancetta. If you use normal bacon, I would suggest you use a dry cured bacon, sliced as thinly as possible.
I do specify using Carême Traditional Pastry here, because their all butter puff is not only delicious, but it has a far superior rise than any other pastry I’ve discovered on the market. I promise it will be worth your while.
|2||giant leeks (or 4-5 standard sized leeks)|
|1/2||teaspoon||fresh thyme leaves|
|375||grams||Carême Traditional all-butter puff pastry|
|2||teaspoons||fresh thyme leaves, additional|
|4-8||slices||shaved dry cured bacon|
To caramelise the leeks (this can be done well in advance), wash and slice the white part of the leeks, being sure to remove all grit. Discard the green portion of the leeks (or reserve to use in stock). You are aiming for four cups worth of sliced leek. Place the butter in a saucepan. Add the leeks and a generous pinch of thyme and cover with a lid. Cook on the lowest possible heat for several hours, stirring occasionally. You want the leeks to become very soft and slightly sweet. To do this they will need to stay moist and cook very slowly, but the time may vary drastically depending on the leeks. If you are preparing the leeks in advance, allow them to cool and store in the fridge in a sealed container.
Preheat the oven to 180oC.
To assemble the tarts, defrost the pastry, unroll it and cut into four squares. Place the squares on a baking tray lined baking paper. Using a sharp knife, cut a one centimetre (approximately) border around each of the squares, cutting nearly all the way through the pastry, but not to the bottom. Then prick the pastry inside that border quite thoroughly. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with a little of the additional fresh thyme.
Dollop a quarter of your caramelised leeks into the middle of each tart and spread the leeks across the pastry, to the inside edge of the border. Do not let any leek onto the border (if some strays, just pick it up and move to the inside). Crumble over the goat cheese. Arrange the bacon or prosciutto in the middle of each tart, giving it as much height as possible.
Bake at 180oC for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden, well puffed and cooked through. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with remaining fresh thyme leaves. Serve immediately or at room temperature with a side salad. Enjoy!