Caramelised leek tarte tatin
As you know, I am a champion of locally grown, seasonal food but during the winter months this can be a hard thing to do. However, the humble leek is the one vegetable that is at its best during the colder months and November happens to be the start of leek season here in the UK and I’ve had the privilege of working with the good people at britishleeks.co.uk to develop some recipes that honour this fine, homegrown vegetable.
This tarte tatin may look like you’ve slaved over this dish for hours but it is in fact such an incredibly simple tart to make. By placing butter and sugar under the leeks in the pan I’ve eliminated the pre-frying in the pan first so it can all be done in the oven. The fresh lemon thyme really brings out the flavour of the leeks but if you can’t find any then regular thyme also works well – so simple, yet it looks so stunning.
I’ve used an oblong deep dish baking tray roughly 30cm x 20cm which is slightly smaller than a regular sheet of ready rolled puff pastry.
Pre-heat the oven to 140C.
Lay some knobs of butter in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with a pinch or two of sugar and plenty of fresh thyme and stand your leeks on top – they should all tuck together and stand up like little soldiers. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for at least an hour so that it gently bakes and caramelises the leeks. Check after 30 minutes to ensure they’re not burning.
After an hour, take it out of the oven and drizzle a little balsamic over and around the leeks then pop it back into the oven for another gentle half an hour.
After half an hour, take it out of the oven and set aside a little to cool. Once it’s stopped steaming, lay the sheet of pastry over the top, brush with egg wash or milk and pop it back into the oven for another 20 minutes or until the pastry has risen and turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside for a few minutes to cool. Take a knife and ensure that the edges of the pastry are loose from the pan, then place a plate or chopping board over the pan and quickly flip the whole thing upside down and remove the pan.
You’ll be able to discover more of my leek recipes over at the British Leeks website www.britishleeks.co.uk