Smoked Bacon, Artichoke and Hen’s Egg Tart
One of the reasons for choosing Suffolk as our home for the British Larder is due to the wealth and abundance of food and produce that this county has to offer - we are incredibly lucky chefs to have so much on our doorstep; that is for sure!
Before our arrival we had the privilege to have meet with Mark and Paul Hayward from Dingley Dell Pig farm, two men on a serious mission. Their pork is welfare friendly and they rear happy pigs producing great tasting pork. We know that all too well, as the Dingley Dell Pork Belly dish is the best selling main course dish at the British Larder Suffolk to date. We are very fortunate as the pigs are reared 2 miles from us.
On our mission to meet and find Suffolk producers we came across Emmet’s of Peasenhall. It’s a beautifully presented delicatessen selling and producing the most delicious Suffolk black hams and sweet cured bacon. We visited Emmet’s the Saturday before we received the keys to the pub. It was a lovely day and a lovely discovery too. We met with Mark Thomas the owner who handed over the keys to his shed in the back yard inviting us to go and have a look how he cures his bacon and hams. Ross took the keys eagerly and I must say, you could smell the wonderful sweet marinade from outside the locked door. When Ross unlocked the shed door the most wonderful array of cured meats was lying in wait to be discovered in a marvellous Aladdin’s cave of cured pork.
Of course we bought some of the black ham and made a wonderful filling to go with warm freshly baked bread for a late afternoon snack, and also the sweet cured bacon which we used to make this delicious smoked bacon, artichoke and hens egg tart. I had a few of the cooked baby artichokes left in the fridge from the previous week, and I have to say, the combination of the smoked sweet cured bacon and the artichokes is for me a luxurious bit of foodie heaven - in fact it’s my idea of a delicacy.
Preparing artichokes is not the easiest thing to do. It has tested my patience as a chef over the years but intriguingly, it’s one of the most satisfying and gratifying jobs to do. Bizarrely, I cannot put my finger on it. It’s hard work and if your’e not careful you could easily get stabbed by the sharp spikes at the tops of the leaves, and yes, you end up with stained, sticky hands. I do not really like wearing gloves but for this task I highly recommend that one does!
As I said it’s a complicated job, so there are a few rules you must remember:
1. Work as quick as you possibly can.
2. Be organised – prepare as much as possible in advance before you make the first cut. The reason for this is because the artichokes start to oxidise as soon as you cut into them.
3. Prepare a large bowl of ice cold water with plenty of lemon juice beforehand, to submerge the artichokes in while you are preparing the rest.
4. Look after the cooked chokes, they keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days in the cooking liquid.
5. Most importantly, enjoy every single one!
I have prepared a slideshow of how to turn baby artichokes – hopefully it will make the process easier to understand and follow.
This tart makes a delicious light lunch option on our menu. It could be served either warm or at room temperature, either way it’s delicious.
Short Crust Pastry
- 250g plain flour
- 110g unsalted butter
- 60ml ice cold water
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the water and mix until the pastry comes together. Do not over work the pastry, wrap it tightly in clingfilm and refrigerate for one hour.
On a lightly floured work surface roll the pastry out until 1/2cm thick and line one 10cm x 35cm x 2.5cm oblong tart case.
Let the pastry rest for half a hour.
Preheat the oven to 170°C, line the tart case with blind baking beans and blind bake the pastry for 20 - 25 minutes until it's cooked. Leave to cool slighty, brush the inside with a beaten egg yolk and return the case to the oven for one minute before pouring the filling into the warm tart case.
Smoked Bacon and Egg Custard
- 3 rashers of smoked sweet cured back bacon, cut into strips
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 25g grain mustard
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 400ml double cream
- 3 whole large free range eggs
- 100g Suffolk Gold Cheese
- 3 cooked baby artichokes, cut into quarters
Preheat the oven to 130°C.
Heat a non-sick frying pan with the butter, once melted saute the bacon and onion until golden brown.
Add the mustard, seasoning and the cream. Bring the mixture to the boil, simmer for 1 minute, remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
Whisk the eggs and add to the cream, mixing well.
Dice the cheese and scatter over the warm blind baked tart case, ladle in the egg mixture and arrange the baby artichoke quarters on top.
Carefully place the tart into the preheated oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, until just set.
Once cooked leave the tart to cool at room temperature before cutting the tart into even sized pieces.
- 12 baby artichokes
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 lemon
- 25ml olive oil
- 1 banana shallot, sliced
- 1tsp vitamin C powder
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 500ml white wine
- 500ml white chicken stock
Turn the baby artichokes; place them in ice-cold water, lemon juice and vitamin C powder to prevent them from discolouring.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the shallots, garlic and drained artichokes until they start to take on some colour. Season and add the herbs.
De-glaze the pan with the wine and add the stock. Cover the artichokes with a kartouche and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the artichokes are tender, remove from the heat and leave to cool in the liquid.
Cut the tart into 6 even size portions. Serve the tart either slightly warm or at room temperature. Cut each artichoke into 4, heat a frying pan with olive oil and saute the artichokes until lightly golden. Serve the warm artichokes with a light herb and garden pea salad.