Rick Stein is best known for his love of Cornish food using fresh ingredients from the coast of Cornwall, but his European-inspired dishes are just as flavoursome.
The renowned TV chef’s leek pie is just one example of taking something as simple as a cheap, green vegetable and turning it into a hearty home-cooked meal.
Considered a French dish, Rick claimed that “many versions of this leek tart or pie from Picardy exist”, though his unique take on it uses something nobody else has.
Made with a family pastry recipe crafted by his own mother, this leek tart is the perfect comfort food, as demonstrated in Rick Stein’s Secret France book.
Even when making the pastry from scratch, very few ingredients are required to pull off this summery dish, which Rick claimed is “delicious”.
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- 75g butter
- 1.25kg leeks (about 3), cut in half lengthways, washed, cut into 1cm slices
- 300g full-fat crème fraiche
- Two large eggs, lightly beaten
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- 200g plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 60g cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 40g cold lard or vegetable shortening, diced
- Two tablespoons of ice-cold water
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To replicate Rick’s family pastry, start by pouring the flour, salt, butter and lard into a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Transfer it to a bowl and spoon in enough water to form a smooth dough without any stickiness.
Flour a clean work surface and place the dough in the centre before rolling it out into a circle around 28cm in diameter.
Place the rolled pastry into a 25cm loose-bottom fluted tart tine and then trim the edges for a uniform look. Prick the base with a fork before covering it with cling film.
The pastry should be left in the fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes to hold its shape.
For the creamy leek filling, melt the butter in a large shallow pan before adding the chopped greens. Rick recommended leaving them to sweat uncovered over medium to low heat for 20-30 minutes until soft.
Occasional stirring will help during this time, but if the leeks still seem very water, continue to cook them until the liquid has disappeared. At this point, the crème fraiche and beaten eggs can be stirred in along with a generous helping of salt, pepper and some nutmeg.
Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan) then remove the chilled pastry case from the fridge or freezer, line it with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake “blind” for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and continue to cook for another four to five minutes to allow the pastry base to dry out a little.
Reduce the oven temperature to 190C/170C), fill the pastry case with the leek mixture and season with a little black pepper. Bake the tart for 25–30 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature.
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