In most cases when one wonders why something does not exist there is a reason – usually surrounding feasibility. However, I like to tinker and try. I like to extrapolate and interpolate. When looking at a photo of a pork pie, I wondered why there are not actual pork pies or tarts, open-faced like pumpkin or apple pies. To me, a pâté en croûte is a fancy pork pie and a little too crust forward. I wanted something a little lighter. I was going to find out if a pork tart was possible by trying to make one.
Basically my plan was to make a hot water crust and then a pâté, combine it into a tart, cook it in a low oven, and then press the tart as it cools. The challenge would be to make sure the crust is cooked without overcooking the pâté. A pork pie is protected by the pastry. This pork tart would be riding helmetless, but what fun is experimenting without a possibility, or better a probability, of failure?
With the specter of failure, I made the hot water crust heating half lard and the other half butter with a little maple syrup to sweeten the crust a bit, water, and salt. Then I stirred in the flour. While the dough rested, I chopped up a few rashers of bacon and then a smattering of allium (ramp tops, garlic and leeks), added all of it to the ground pork, and then adding the panade – made with egg, cream and, replacing the flour/liquor combination more typically used, a bit of sourdough starter – and pistachios to garnish.
Once the dough was pressed into the tart pan, I carefully pressed the pâté into the crust and smoothed the top. Then the tart went into the oven for a little under an hour. Once cooked, the pâté was pressed by another tart pan weighed with books. After the pork tart has finished cooling on the counter top, it chilled overnight in the fridge.
For lunch the next day, I sliced a piece to find a nice cross-section and completely cooked pastry. I took major victory points in both of these as making sure that the pâté would by cooked correctly while the pastry is completely cooked was my main concern. The texture was smooth and dense. The pâté was well seasoned and flavors of smoke from the bacon and funk from the ramps were forward and delicious. There are enough kitchen experiments ending in failure – and not even spectacular failure, which is at least exciting, but rather boring failure – but this came out better than I could have hoped.
- 500 g ground pork
- 50 g bacon, chopped
- 15 g ramp tops, finely sliced
- 30 g leeks, whites only, chopped
- 15 g garlic, minced
- 15 g sea salt
- 2 g black pepper
- 50 g pistachios, chopped
- Hot water crust
Step one: Preheat oven to 325º F. In a large mixing bowl (one for your stand mixer works perfectly, if you have one), mix by hand the pork bacon, allium, salt and pepper.
Step two: Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer or your hands, add the panade and pistachios and whip until the meat appears to be tacky.
Step three: Spoon onto prepared crust and smooth with a spatula and then your hands.
Step four: Cook until internal temp of pork is 150º F. Check at 30 minutes, then every 10 minutes there after. Mine took a little under an hour. If the top begins to brown, cover with foil.
Step five: Choosing a tart pan slightly smaller than this tart (a 9″ pan works great), wrap the pan in clingwrap, then place it on the tart as it cools weighing it down with books, plates, etc. until the tart is at room temp.
Step 6: Cover the tart and chill it overnight in the fridge. When ready, slice and serve with a salad and pickles.
- 1 egg
- 20 g sourdough starter
- 70 g cream
Step one: Whisk to combine. Set aside
Hot Water Crust
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 60 g lard
- 60 g water
- 8 g maple syrup
- 6 g salt
- 200 g AP flour
Step one: Preheat the oven to 400º F. In a glass pie plate, combine the butter, lard, water, syrup, and salt.
Step two: Place the bowl in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the butter/lard is starting to brown just around the edges.
Step three: Remove pie plate from the oven, spoon in the flour and stir quickly so it becomes a ball.
Step four: Transfer dough ball to a 10″ tart pan and spread it a bit with a spatula. Then press the dough up the sides of the pan being sure to not leave cracks in the crust.