I’m not very good at anything that requires precision; cutting, gluing, drawing, sewing and the like just aren’t made for me no matter how much I might like them to be. I thought it was time I challenged this, determined to be as perfect as possible I set about making some mini chicken and chorizo tartlets. This of course was not only an excuse to try and achieve the impossible; namely a pastry tart case that didn’t shrink, but also to use up some more of my leftover chicken.
To make four mini tarts you will need:
4oz flour, 2oz butter and cold water for the pastry
125g cooked chicken
125g cooking chorizo
1 small onion
Small handful parsley
1 tbsp flour
1/2 pint milkFirst and foremost make the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour until you have breadcrumbs and then add drops of water until it comes together. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. Roll the pastry out and divide into four pieces. Line each tart tin with the pastry and prick the base with a fork. I thought I'd make a right mess of lining the tins but it was really quick and simple; no holes and no patching up required.
I tried that trick of pushing the rolling pin over the pastry when it’s in the case to remove the excess pastry from the edges and it worked brilliantly. Line the tarts with some baking paper and fill the tart cases with baking beans. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15 minutes then remove the baking beans. I don’t think I was quite firm enough pushing my beans down as I did get a few air bubbles so I'll be sure to be more forceful next time.The fiddliest part was the unfortunate but necessary step of removing the skins from the chorizo. They may be natural skins and fine to eat but I’d had them before and ended up having to pull the skins off after cooking and out of my teeth. I wasn’t prepared to spend the evening flossing so skin removal was essential. Once the skins are removed, chop the chorizo and fry on a medium heat so the oil runs out of the chorizo and it gets nice and crispy. Remove the chorizo from the pan leaving some of the oil and put the onion in. Fry the onion until soft and going brown at the edges; the smell was divine.
This tart uses a thick béchamel sauce rather than eggs. My Granny has always sworn by adding butter to onions before adding the flour when making a béchamel and now was my chance to try it. She says you never get lumps doing it like this.
When the onions are soft add the butter, let it melt then stir in the flour (you might need more so keep it on hand) and then cook for another minute or so. Gradually add the milk stirring constantly. Only add dribbles at a time because you need quite a thick sauce.Not only was this method really successful and lump free but the chorizo made the sauce a beautiful, pale salmon orange. Chop the parsley and stir in with some salt and pepper. When the sauce is done, the tarts can be assembled. Put a few bits of torn chicken and chorizo into each case and top with the sauce. Turn the oven down to 180C and cook for 20-30 minutes until the tops are lightly golden.
There was a big sigh of relief when the tarts came out of the cases with ease. I served them with a little mashed potato and some fresh Spring carrots. I was amazed how much of the chicken you could taste; it was not overpowered by any other flavour. The chorizo was wonderfully salty and the parsley and onions added a finishing freshness. I was very pleased with these tarts because putting in that extra bit of effort made the whole meal a little more special. I had a little spare pastry to make cheese straws which is always a bonus!
My pastry was also somewhat of a triumph. No holes, not too much shrinkage and a lovely crunchy, crumbly texture. I always thought that if I bought mini tart tins I would use them once and then forget about them. Now I reckon I’ll knock up a batch of mini tarts (sweet or savoury) whenever I get occasion to. I know not many people get very excited about quiches and flans, full size or otherwise, but being miniature gives these tarts a little something extra.