Roast Leek, Smoked Salmon and Tarragon Tart

Leeks that are on the bendy side of fresh are worth roasting. I cook them in pieces in a foil lined Swiss roll tin with sufficient foil to flop over to make a loose cover. I smear them with oil but always find the top sheet/furl ends up stiff and needs to be removed. You could just steam or boil lengths of leek but do drain them carefully if you do. The combination of sweet, silky, slippery leek, dabs of creamy, salty goat cheese and scraps of peaty smoked salmon with hints of aniseedy tarragon all held in just-set custard is delicious. I make my own short crust pastry, but you could cheat with Jul-rol. Either way it is blind baked first to avoid soggy bottoms.

Serves 4-6
Prep: 30 min
Cook: 45 min

For the pastry:
200g plain flour, plus a little extra
100g butter, plus a little extra
25g lard
4-6 tbsp very cold water

for the filling
4 trimmed leeks, approx 400g
3 large eggs
200g thick cream or crème fraiche
1 tsp snipped tarragon leaves
75g smoked salmon trimmings
75g Perroche or other soft goat cheese
3 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add 100g butter and 25g lard in chunks and rub into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Using a knife or fork (if you’re superstitious) stir as you add 1 tbsp cold water at a time, continuing until the mixture clings together. Quickly form into a soft ball. Wrap in clingfilm or pop into a plastic bag and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, trim the leeks and cut into large bite-size pieces. Line a Swiss roll tin with foil with sufficient overhang to loosely cover the leeks. Smear the base with olive oil and roll the leeks through the oil before flopping the foil over the top. Cook in the hot oven for 20 minutes, checking after 15 by piercing with a sharp knife for tenderness. Prepare the custard by placing eggs, cream and tarragon in a mixing bowl. Season lightly with salt, generously with black pepper. Fork-whisk to mix.  Butter a 23cm flan tin with a removable base with butter and dust with flour, tipping out the excess (to make it non-stick). Roll the pastry on a floured surface to fit, pressing down gently into the base edges and trimming to leave a decent overhang to avoid shrinkage. Cover loosely with baking parchment or foil. Line the base with baking beans or rice and bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper or foil and cook for a further 5-10 minutes to firm and lightly brown the pastry. Arrange the cooled leek in the base of the pastry case, add scraps of smoked salmon and goat cheese then pour the custard over the top to cover. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top. Carefully lift onto a baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden and billowing and feels firm but springy. Stand the tart on a tin of beans or similar and carefully shave off the pastry overhang before removing the collar. Serve hot, warm or cold. Yum.