Smoked Bacon, Artichoke and Hen’s Egg Tart
Smoked Bacon, Artichoke and Hen’s Egg Tart

Smoked Bacon, Artichoke and Hen’s Egg Tart

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    Serves 6
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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. It’s hard work and if you are 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!

These are a few rules you must remember when preparing baby artichokes:

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, it could be served either warm or at room temperature, either way it’s of Smoked Bacon, Artichoke and Hen’s Egg Tartphoto of Smoked Bacon, Artichoke and Hen’s Egg Tartphoto of Smoked Bacon, Artichoke and Hen’s Egg Tartphoto of Smoked Bacon, Artichoke and Hen’s Egg Tart

Ingredients & Method

For the baby artichokes

  • 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

For the pastry and savoury custard

  • 250g short crust pastry
  • 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 strong cheddar cheese or my choice Suffolk Gold Cheese
  • 3 cooked baby artichokes, cut into quarters

First prepare the baby artichokes. Turn the baby artichokes following the video above; 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.

Next make the savoury custard. 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.

Line and blind bake the tart case. Preheat the oven to 170°C, line the tart case with the pastry rolled to 2mm thickness on a lightly floured work surface. Then line with paper and blind baking beans and blind bake the pastry for 20 – 25 minutes until it’s cooked, reduce the oven temperature to 130°C.

Brush the inside of the tart case with a beaten egg yolk and return the case to the oven for one minute before pouring the filling in. 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.

To Serve 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.