Wild mushroom and chestnut tarts

Makes 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Vegetarians can sometimes feel neglected at the table on Christmas Day, so it's important to have something special for them to eat. Mushrooms make a great meaty alternative and if you use wild ones it's luxurious, too.

250g puff pastry, or trimmings, rolled to 2-3 mm thick
12 fresh chestnuts
4 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A good knob of butter
400g wild mushrooms, cleaned and cut into good sized chunks
250ml double cream
1tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
2tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

As the filling is a little too gooey for slicing a larger tart, this is better if you use 4 tart tins measuring approximately 21/2-3cm high by 10cm. Cut the pastry about 2cm larger than the tins and line them, firming the pastry up to and a little over the top of the tins with your thumb and forefinger. With a fork, prick the pastry all over on the inside of the tins, including the sides. Line them with greaseproof paper or foil and fill them with baking beans (dried old beans or the metal baking beans you can buy).

Leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour at least or better still overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Meanwhile criss-cross the pointed end of the chestnut with a knife. Bake the cases for 20 minutes, then remove the baking beans and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until lightly coloured. Bake the chestnuts in the same oven for 10 minutes. Remove pastry from the tins and leave on a wire rack to cool. When cool, peel and cut the chestnuts in half.

Gently cook the shallots and garlic in the butter for 2-3 minutes until soft, add the mushrooms, season and cook with a lid on for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often until they soften. Add the cream and Parmesan and continue to simmer until the cream thickens and just coats the mushrooms. Add the chestnuts and parsley and re-season if necessary.

To serve, warm the tarts and fill with the mushroom mixture, or you can stir in an egg yolk before you fill them and cook them under a grill to give a baked, glazed effect.

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