"These little tarts are great to serve as a starter on a cold winter's night, or as a meal in themselves for a light lunch or dinner, with a fresh green salad alongside. They are based on the simple onion tarts that can be found throughout the Alsace region of France, but here I've added a little speck (spiced, salt-cured and smoked pork), just because it is so delicious. If you can't find speck, use the best-quality bacon you can get. For best results, take the time to caramelise the onion properly." ~Manu Feildel.
1 quantity Shortcrust Pastry (see page 207)
2 tsp unsalted butter
30 g speck (see page 209) or bacon, cut into thin strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
150 ml milk
150 ml pouring cream
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Thyme sprigs (optional), to serve
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until about 3 mm thick and use to line four 12 cm tart tins with removable bases. Use a small sharp knife to trim off the excess. Prick the pastry shells all over with a fork. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Line each pastry shell with a piece of baking paper, then fill with pastry weights, dried beans or rice. Place the tart tins on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is light golden. Remove the baking tray from the oven, then remove the weights and paper and return the pastry shells to the oven to bake for another 5 minutes or until the pastry is golden and dry. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a heavy-based frying pan over low heat. Add the speck or bacon and cook for 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
Whisk the eggs until foamy. Whisk in the milk, cream and nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide the onion mixture evenly among the tart shells and pour over the egg mixture. Bake for 30–35 minutes or until golden and just set. Serve immediately with thyme sprigs, if using.
Credits: Manu's French Bistro by Manu Feildel, published by Penguin, RRP $39.99
Photo Credits: Photography by Chris Chen. Manu's French Bistro by Manu Feildel, published by Penguin, RRP $39.99