Bon Appetit Wednesday! Flan

FlanHave you ever slid your spoon into a smooth, creamy serving of flan and wondered, “What genius came up with this heavenly creation?” Well, we can’t give you a name, but we can give you the ancient history behind the delectable concoction we call flan.

As with so many of our modern recipes, flan has its origins in Rome. Those crafty Romans developed flan originally as a savory dish, but quickly decided to expand its use. And while they did create a sweet honey-flavored flan, they also indulged in the less appetizing eel flan with pepper.[1]

Of course, the Romans carried their version of flan with them throughout the world and shared it with various cultures. Eventually, each culture made flan their own. Two places in particular embraced flan and adapted it to fit their taste.

The Spanish version of flan is the most well-known today. It became a dessert characterized by caramelized sugar. It is important to note that Spanish flan was also infused with an Arabian influence during the 11th-15th centuries. This influence included the use of almonds, honey and orange.[2]

Less well-known is the English version of flan. In medieval times, the English added a pastry crust and more eggs to the recipe.[3] They often included nuts and fruits as well.[4] Today, the English are known for their use of all sorts of puddings, including savory and sweet, and flan tops the list for its taste and versatility.

While you may have enjoyed Spanish flan at some point, it is less likely that you’ve tasted a British flan recipe. Today we’re sharing a unique recipe for Egg, Bacon and Asparagus Flan. If you’re craving a traditional Spanish flan, don’t worry. Click here for the “Best Flan Recipe Ever.”

Bacon, Egg and Asparagus Flan

Not an image of the actual recipe, but representative of the finished product.

Not an image of the actual recipe, but representative of the finished product.

Recipe courtesy of BBC Food

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch young asparagus, about 10 spears, trimmed
  • 5 rashers dry-cure smoked back bacon
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 25g/1 ounce of corn flour
  • 300ml/½ pint of semi-skimmed milk
  • 3 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 25g/1 ounce of extra-mature Cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • flaked sea salt
  • freshly groundblack pepper

For the pastry

  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil, plus extra for oiling the tin
  • 4 sheetsfilo pastry, each about 32 x 38cm/13 x 15in

 

Instructions

  1. Slice the asparagus into lengths of about 5cm/2in. Half fill a large non-stick frying pan with water and bring to the boil. Add the asparagus, bring back to the boil and cook for a minute until just tender. Drain and rinse under running water until cold, then pat dry.
  2. Trim any fat off the bacon and cut into 1cm/½in strips. Return the pan to a low heat, add the oil and gently fry the onion and bacon until lightly browned, stirring regularly.
  3. Add the onion and bacon to the bowl with the asparagus, toss lightly and leave to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat.
  5. Lightly oil a 20cm/8in loose-based fluted flan tin that’s about 3.5cm/1½in deep. Pour the rest of the oil into a small bowl.
  6. Place a sheet of filo pastry in the flan tin, pressing it firmly against the base and sides. Using the tip of a pastry brush, brush the pastry with a little oil then cover with a second pastry sheet at a right angle to the first. Brush with more oil and cover with a third sheet at the same angle to the first. Brush with the oil and cover with a fourth sheet, running in the same direction as the second. Roll and crumple the overhanding pastry back on to the rim of the tin, lifting slightly above it, and brush lightly with the remaining oil. Place the tin on the baking tray.
  7. Put the corn flour in a non-stick saucepan and stir in 50ml/2fl ounces of the milk to make thin paste. Pour over 200ml/7fl ounces of the milk and stir well. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.
  8. Cook for a minute over a medium heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick and smooth.
  9. Season, then remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the milk to cool and loosen the sauce.
  10. Stir in the beaten eggs until thoroughly combined.
  11. Scatter half the asparagus, bacon and onion mixture over the base of the pastry case and pour the white sauce gently on top. Scatter the remaining asparagus and bacon mixture on top and press down lightly, then sprinkle evenly with the cheese.
  12. Bake on the preheated baking tray in the center of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned and crisp and the filling is set.
  13. Take the flan out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing. Serve warm or cold.

 

[1] History of Flan. (n.d.). Retrieved March 05, 2016, from http://flan.holidaycook.com/history.shtml

[2] History of Flan. (n.d.). Retrieved March 05, 2016, from http://www.flanrecipe.org/history_of_flan.html

[3] Ibid.

[4] History of Flan. (n.d.). Retrieved March 05, 2016, from http://flan.holidaycook.com/history.shtml

 

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