After watching Raymond Blanc's new series 'the Very Hungry Frenchman' in Alsace, I was inspired to make my own tart. Now I know real men shouldn't eat quiche, but there is nothing camp about this one with very short crumbly pastry, a savoury parmesan custard and sweet caramelised onions. Be warned, this is not a diet dish as you will realise when you pull this tart together. It does however feed six so at least you can split the guilt (and calories) among friends and family.
Plain flour - 300g
Lard - 85g
Butter - 85g plus 50g for the onions
Free range eggs - 4 plus 1 for the pastry, beaten
Parmesan - 200g, finely grated
A little mature cheddar cheese - maybe 50g, grated
Double cream - 200ml
Milk - 100ml
Nutmeg - 10 gratings
White onions - 6 medium or 3 large
Salt & white pepper
First make your pastry. In a food processor blitz the lard, 85g butter and the flour together with a good pinch of salt and white pepper. When the fat is incorporated and the flour looks like breadcrumbs stop the mixer. Add 1/2 a beaten egg and pulse until the mixture starts to come together. Tip the mix onto the work surface and lightly press the crumbs together into a loose dough. Cling and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Peel and slice the onions as finely as you can - I used a Japanese mandolin - and gently fry in the remainder of the butter with a pinch of seasoning. Stir occasionally until the onions are meltingly soft and golden - maybe 45 mins. Set aside to cool.
Now roll out your pastry on a floured work surface until it is the thickness of a pound coin. The pastry is very short and may crack a bit if too cold - if this happens, reform into a flat disk and try again. The act of working to pastry makes it more pliable, and remember the odd crack is fine as you can patch it up later. Line a 12 inch loose bottomed flan tin (mine was 3cm high) with the pastry leaving some overlapping the tin rim. This helps to stop the pastry sinking down the sides of the tin during cooking. The tart must be watertight so use the remaining half an egg and some pastry off-cuts to patch up any holes. Line the tart with clingflim (it won't melt) and baking beans then blind bake at 160c for 30 to 40 mins, removing the beans and clingfilm half way through cooking. At the end of the blind baking the tart case should be golden and dry all over.
Allow to cool then carefully trim the tart edge with a serrated knife to give a neat edge. Beat the remaining eggs with the cream, milk, nutmeg, parmesan and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Make sure you taste the mix as an under or over seasoned tart in not a joyful thing. Mix the onions with half the egg mix then pour into the tart case. Put the tart in the oven and fill with the remainder of the egg mix right up to the rim. Sprinkle with the cheddar and bake at 160c until just cooked and golden. The centre of the tart should feel just firm when lightly prodded. Allow to cool for 10 mins before serving.