Boeuf haché (minced beef) was never pre-minced sitting in the window at Serge’s; it had to be requested. Window space was the butcher’s canvas, a place to display his skills like a Renaissance still-life: evenly sliced T-bone steaks or lamb loin chops were arranged in perfect layers, rolled sides of beef skilfully tied, dressed legs of French lamb, hand-made saucissons, prepared paupiettes (seasoned minced forcemeat enclosed in thinly sliced  eat), all perfectly presented to entice the customer – but not mince.

On request, completely fat-free pieces of meat would be weighed and ground and, if required, shaped into burgers right there while you waited. It had to be fresh, and knowing from what the mince was prepared is a French housewife’s prerogative.

 

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

300 grams shortcrust pastry

FILLING

  • 1 onion, peeled and diced (brown or red is fine)
  • 6 large cloves garlic, crushed, peeled and mashed to a paste
  • ¼–1/3 cup olive oil
  • 350 grams minced beef (find the leanest you can)
  • 100–125 grams chorizo sausage, diced (a hot spicy chorizo will add good flavour)
  • 1½–2 teaspoons piment d’Espelette or paprika
  • 1 large ripe tomato, deseeded and diced
  • 1 cup grated cheese (we used Brebis here, but Edam or even Colby will be fine)
  • 3 red capsicums, grilled lightly and finely sliced (peel only if wished)
  • ½ cup juicy black olives, either plain or marinated

 Preheat the oven to 190°C and set the rack in the middle.

Roll the pastry out and line the base and sides of a 25 cm fl an tin. Line with baking paper and baking-blind material. Bake blind for 12–15 minutes until the pastry edges are beginning to brown. Remove the baking blind material and return to the oven to cook until well done. This step is essential.

Increase the oven temperature to 200–220°C.

Cook the onion and garlic in half the oil in a frying-pan until well softened; set aside.

Heat the remaining oil, and brown the mince and chorizo sausage well. Return the onion and garlic to the pan with the piment d’Espelette and the diced tomato. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The mixture has to be thick, so if it is wet, simmer without the lid until the excess liquid evaporates.

Scatter most of the cheese over the base of the pastry shell. Spread over the mince, and scatter over the capsicum, olives and remaining cheese.

Return to the 200–220°C oven for 12–15 minutes until the tart is hot.

 

Recipe From ‘My French Kitchen’ by Allyson Gofton reproduced with permission from Penguin. Originally published in issue 110 of FrenchEntrée Magazine