Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Savory Three Cheeses Flan with Homecured Applewood Smoked Diced Bacon and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette on a Bed of Baby Arugula

To be quite honest, I had a hard time deciding which photo to lead with here.

I've got three things going on, not the least of which is homecured, applewood smoked bacon made by son Josh in his Sacramento backyard.

I think that's worthy of a post all its own and I've been bugging him to be a guest blogger.

Anyone want to chime in and nudge him a bit?

I mean, the guy goes out and bags an elk, a deer, a couple of pigs, some ducks, a few geese, brings them home and makes his own steaks, roasts, sausage, bacon, confit . . .

Josh's home cured bacon is a beautiful thing

He asked me a while back if I knew a good book on curing meats. Charcuterie was the first one that came to mind so he went out and bought a copy and now there's no stopping the man.

Not that I'm complaining; I've got his pork bacon and duck breasts in my freezer. You will hear no complaining from this mom.
Then there's the flan.

Oh my. Can I toot my own horn?

Ricotta, chevre, and parmigiano reggiano cheeses bound together with a few of my hens' eggs and some lightly sautéed leeks, sitting on a bed of baby arugula, drizzled with - number three! - a warm bacon vinaigrette, then topped with bits of Josh's homecured bacon.

Heaven on a plate.
You see my dilemma. I couldn't divide them up into their separate recipes. Hence the long title.

Make this for dinner some night. It takes very little time to prepare (except for the bacon curing part) and it's elegant as all get out.

And if you're not as lucky as I am to have a meat curing son, a good bacon such as Niman Ranch will do as a substitute. (But really, it won't be the same.)

Savory Three Cheeses Flan with Homecured Applewood Smoked Diced Bacon and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette on a Bed of Baby Arugula
Christine's original recipe with gratitude to her son Josh and his charcuterie skills
(print recipe)

1 15-ounce tub fresh organic ricotta cheese
4-ounces fresh chevre (goat cheese)
2/3 cup parmigiano reggiano, finely grated
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
generous grinds of black peppercorns
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 fat leek, white and light green part only, about 6-inches long, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons dry white wine
Olive oil and unsalted butter for the pan
6 pieces thick bacon (homecured is best), 2-inches in length
1 teaspoon (heaping) good Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon golden balsamic vinegar
2 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry

(See Cook's Notes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack positioned in the center of the oven.
Spray the insides of 6 4-ounce custard cups with a thin film of non-stick spray then wipe with a paper towel. Set in a large roasting pan.
Heat about a teaspoon each olive oil and unsalted butter in a skillet over medium-low flame.
Add the sliced leeks and sauté gently until they are softened. Adjust the heat so they don't burn.
Allow the leeks to cook until they are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the white wine to the skillet, stir and sauté until the pan is just dry. Remove from the heat and toss with a pinch or two of kosher salt.
Remove the cooked leeks to a plate to cool a bit.
Meanwhile, combine the three cheeses, pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt by hand in a medium bowl until blended.
Add the beaten eggs and stir until they are fully incorporated.
When the leeks aren't screaming hot, add them to the cheese mixture and stir well.
Divide the mixture evenly between the 6 cups.
Place the cups in a large roasting pan and pour hot water into the pan so that it comes to about halfway up the sides of the custard cups.
Bake in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a flan comes out clean and the top is lightly golden brown.
Remove the flans from the water bath and allow to cool on a wire rack until they can be handled easily.
While the flans are enjoying their hot tub, heat a skillet (cast iron can't be beat for this) on medium high then add the pieces of bacon and let them sizzle until they are cooked through and a beautiful mahogany brown on both sides.
Remove the pan from the heat and use tongs to remove the bacon to paper towels to drain. (Reserve the bacon fat in the skillet, off heat.)
Stack the bacon pieces on top of each other and cut into 1/2-inch dice (see photos above). Set aside.
Whisk the mustard into the bacon fat in the skillet then whisk in the vinegar until the mixture is smooth and thickened.

To assemble:
Divide the arugula between 6 plates.
Run a knife around the edge of a flan then place a spatula over the flan while tipping the cup over the center of the arugula. Give the custard cup a shake, allowing the flan to drop onto the spatula. Gently position the flan on the arugula. Repeat with the rest of the flans on their individual plates.
Drizzle the vinaigrette here and there on the arugula and over the top of the flan then garnish with the bits of bacon.

What a way to have your bacon and eggs.

Cook's Notes:
Aside from the oven baking time, none of the tasks above takes much time to prepare. Keeping the individual parts warm before assembly is key to the success of the dish so work as quickly as you can when the flans come out of the oven.


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