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Asparagus, Speck and Pecorino Tart

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Asparagus, Speck and Pecorino Tart

It’s pastry week on Bake Off and one of our online cohorts have just completed pastry week too, on our online Essential Cooking course. Our students learned the key techniques needed to perfect enriched shortcrust and herb rich shortcrust pastry, for both sweet and savoury tarts. One recipe they tackled was this Asparagus, Pecorino and Speck tart, which you can have a go at too!

Head to our shortcrust pastry guide to make your own pastry before starting this recipe.

If you want to make a herb rich pastry, add about 1 tablespoon of your chosen chopped herb (oregano, thyme, rosemary) to the pastry crumb before adding the liquid.

Parmesan can be happily substituted for the Pecorino, and Parma ham can be used instead of Speck ham in this recipe. Feel free to try fresh parsley or Basil in place of the chives too. You will need an 11 x 35cm loose-based rectangular flan tin, or you can use a 24cm round flan tin.

Ingredients

Serves 4

Asparagus, Speck and Pecorino Tart
1 quantity herb rich shortcurst pastry
12 spears of very fine asparagus, or 6 spears of thicker (1.5cm diameter) asparagus
120g Pecorino cheese
250ml double cream
1 egg and 2 extra egg yolks
Salt and pepper
5 slices of 6 month aged Speck ham
A few chives to garnish

Instructions

  1. Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm thickness and use to line your loose bottomed flan tin. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until firm to the touch at least half an hour. Wrap and chill any leftover pastry to use for repairs. Heat the oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6.
  2. Now prepare the filling. Bend the lower end of each asparagus stalk until it snaps. Discard the lower woody ends. Trim the spears with a sharp knife so they are all the same length. If the spears are thick, peel off the skin from the lower half with a swivel peeler and cut them in half right down the length. Grate the pecorino and roughly tear the speck into large pieces and set aside.
  3. Bring a large pan or water to the boil. When the water is boiling, plunge the asparagus spears into the boiling water for 1 minute. Drain quickly and then refresh under very cold water to stop the asparagus cooking and keep the vibrant green colour. Pat dry with kitchen paper and set aside.
  4. Place the chilled lined pastry case on a baking sheet. Blind bake the pastry for 15–20 minutes, then remove the baking beans and bake for a further 5 minutes, or until the pastry looks dry and feels sandy to the touch. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/gas mark 2.
  5. Put the eggs and cream into a small bowl and mix well with a fork. Pass this mixture through a sieve into a clean medium bowl. Add 100g of the grated pecorino to the egg mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Don’t add too much salt as the speck and pecorino are both quite salty.
  6. Pour the egg, cream and cheese mixture into the tart case, making sure the case is as full as possible. Arrange the pieces of speck in an even pattern on top of the egg mixture, making sure you leave enough room to add the asparagus spears. Place the asparagus spears in between the pieces ham. Scatter the reserved 20g of grated pecorino over the top.
  7. Carefully transfer to a shelf in the lower third of the oven and bake the tart for 20–30 minutes until the custard is pale yellow colour and just a little soft in the centre. To check, give the tart a little shake; there should be no violent wobble in the centre. (An overcooked filling will rise up and feel springy to the touch.)
  8. Allow to cool slightly on the baking sheet, then remove the side of the tin, if using, and slide the tart onto a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
  9. Just before serving, finely chop enough chives to yield about a tablespoon and sprinkle over the top of the tart.

If you'd like to learn to master more, essential cooking skills like making the perfect pastry, take a look at our online Essenital Cooking Certificate course.

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