Thursday, 7 October 2010

Double-Egged Crustless Spinach & Bacon Tart

I have a real hankering for old-fashioned food, the sort that my grannies cooked in the Sixties when I was growing up. In particular, I have a craving for a raised ham pie, with boiled eggs tucked inside. A Scotch egg would do nicely, too. My English mother-in-law made fabulous Scotch eggs that were deliciously springy, the pork-sausage meat encasing a perfectly cooked boiled egg.

Double-Egged Crustless Spinach & Bacon Tart
Double-Egged Crustless Spinach & Bacon Tart

The tricky part of putting whole eggs in pies - a very old English tradition -  is boiling them just hard enough to peel, but not so hard that their yolks cook to sawdust while the pie's baking. In this crustless tart, I've dropped the whole raw eggs into nests made in the mixture, and reduced the oven temperature during cooking so that the yolks are just done by the time the quiche mixture has puffed and browned.

Double-Egged Crustless Spinach & Bacon Tart
Drop the eggs into 'nests' you've made in the spinach mixture
I do appreciate crustless tarts - they're brilliant when you don't have time to faff around with pastry - but one of the challenges is creating a mixture that is firm enough to slice and pull away from the bottom and sides of the pan, but not so firm that it bounces when dropped on a plate.  I think that the way to achieve a lovely trembling texture is to add some grated butter to the mix.

This had never occurred to me until I tried Zaheera's Easy Sweetcorn, Coriander and Chilli Crustless Egg Tart, which has a beautiful texture that I can only attribute to the butter.

This is just as nice without the spinach (see photograph at the end of this post), but omit the nutmeg, and increase the amount of chopped fresh parsley to ¾ cup (180 ml).

Double-Egged Crustless Spinach & Bacon Tart

200 g fresh spinach or Swiss chard
200 g streaky bacon
1 Tbsp (15 ml) sunflower  or vegetable oil
13 large, free-range eggs
¾ cup (180 ml) milk or cream
1 tsp (5 ml) hot English mustard powder
½ tsp (2.5 ml) grated nutmeg
3 Tbsp (45 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley
the juice of half a lemon
1 tsp (5 ml) finely grated lemon zest
60 g cold butter, grated
1 cup (250 ml) grated Cheddar
salt and milled black pepper

To top:
2 tsp (10 ml) poppy seeds
a little paprika or cayenne pepper

Rinse the spinach well (remove the thick stalks, if you're using Swiss chard). Give it a light shake and place in a large pot, with some water still clinging to the leaves. Add a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for a few minutes over a medium heat, turning the spinach over now and then, until it has wilted down, but is still a vibrant green. Place in a colander over a sink and cover with a saucer weighed down with something heavy.

Preheat the oven to 180 ºC. Dice the bacon. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the bacon and cook until brown and beginning to crisp. Drain off the fat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat eight of the eggs (set the remaining eggs aside). Add the milk, mustard powder, nutmeg, parsley, lemon juice and zest, grated butter and Cheddar and stir well. Season well with salt and pepper.

Squeeze all the moisture out of the cooked spinach (it's easiest to do this with your hands) and chop it up. Add this to the mixing bowl along with the bacon. Pour the mixture into a large greased pie dish. Using a large spoon, make a little well in the tart, near the edge, and break a whole egg into it (don't worry if the egg white runs over the top a little). Repeat with the remaining four eggs (see photograph above). 

Scatter the poppy seeds over the top of the tart and dust with paprika.  Bake at 180ºC for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160ºC and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture is puffed and golden, with a slight wobble in the middle.

Serve hot or warm with a green salad.

Serves 6-8

Double-Egged Crustless Cheese & Bacon Tart
The same tart, without spinach

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Marisa said...

I'm actually not a big crust fan, so crustless tarts are always welcome in my home. Have also grown rather fond of eggs during the past couple of years, so this looks right up my alley.

Nina Timm said...

OMW Jane this is so dammn beautiful. I have another recipe where you cook th eeggs like this, but this one is so much more pretty and I bet delicious too!!! said...

I love crustless tarts :)

redkathy said...

Oh Wow this is fabulous. I mean really fabulous... drooling! You are truly an artist.