Flamiche is a savory tart from Picardie made of leeks and cream encased in puff pastry. This is comfort food at its finest, perfect for cool days or nights as we wait for spring. Flamiche can stand on its own as a lunch dish or may be served as a starter in the evening, accompanied by a fruity red. Its versatility makes it a winner. Yet this pie from Picardie is rarely encountered in other parts of France, not to mention the rest of the world.
Flamiche / Flamiche
Making flamiche is fun and surprisingly easy. The key, unless you enjoy making pâte feuilletée from scratch, is to use a high-quality store-bought variety of puff pastry. The leeks are cleaned, chopped and sautéed in butter, then crème fraîche and seasonings are added. Unlike a quiche, which has only a bottom crust, this tart has a top crust as well. It is brushed with an egg yolk glaze before going into the oven to produce a beautiful result.
Flamiche is claimed as a local specialty in Picardie, a region northeast of Paris that stretches from the Channel to the edge of Champagne country. Also known as flamique or flamike, it has evolved over the years, having come into existence as simply a way of using leftover bread dough, which was flattened into a galette, or flat cake, baked and coated with melted butter. Exactly when the brilliant idea of adding the leek came up is unknown.
These days extra ingredients are often included — bacon, shallots, grated cheese or pungent soft cheeses such as Maroilles or Roquefort. But natives of Picardie consider it a sacrilege to add anything to distract from the star ingredient — the sacred leek!
Flamiche is rarely found in bakeries or restaurants, so the only solution is to make it yourself. I have had great success this winter when serving flamiche to guests. It’s just unusual enough to elicit surprise and delight. As we head toward what we must hope will be a peaceful spring, why not try your hand at this superlative and very French dish?