Crayfish and watercress tart

Serves 6-8
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Once again I'm trying my hardest to get you lot to eat more of our adopted signal crayfish, which are tasty vermin doing a lot of damage in our rivers, instead of buying crayfish sandwiches using imported Chinese varieties.

250g short-crust pastry, rolled to 1/4cm
20-30 live crayfish
250-300g watercress
6 spring onions
A good knob of butter
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
300-350ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Bring a pan of boiling, well-salted water to the boil, plunge in the crayfish, bring back to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water, then remove the tails by crushing them slightly between your thumb and forefinger. Remove the shell and put the meat to one side. Some crayfish have large claws and these are worth cracking to remove the meat.

Break the leafy watercress away from the stalks and chop the stalks finely with the spring onions, then gently cook in the butter for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often until soft. Stir in the leaves and cook for another minute. Transfer to a colander to allow liquid to drain.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Line a 25cm x 3cm deep tart tin, preferably with a removable base, with the pastry. Line with greaseproof paper and baking beans and leave to rest for 45 minutes. Bake blind for 30 minutes or until the pastry is just beginning to colour. Remove the beans and paper and cook for another 5 minutes, then remove from the oven. Spread the watercress mixture on the base of the tart, then scatter over the crayfish.

Bring the cream to the boil, whisk the yolks and whole eggs together, then pour on the cream, mix and season to taste. Pour the mixture into the tart and bake for about 20-30 minutes. Leave to cool a little before serving or serve cold with a green salad.