I’m not a fan of uni-taskers. You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s those kitchen tools or gadgets that were only created to serve one purpose. But that’s not to say I don’t own any because I do have a few. (Like my iced tea maker, for example.) But today I wanted to talk about something that most people would think of as a uni-tasker – the mini muffin pan. Sure, you can use these pans to make mini muffins, even mini cupcakes. But aside from those obvious things, I love using it for bite sized appetizers. One appetizer I made recently using a mini muffin pan includes these Roasted Garlic, Caramelized Leek and Bacon Bites. A savory filling of roasted garlic, caramelized leeks and crispy bacon fill mini pie shells for the perfect, tasty bite…
These appetizers were inspired by a pizza recipe I found on the Serious Eats website. Rather than making the pizza (which I’m sure is quite tasty), I wanted smaller bites that would be easier to eat. My son loved them too especially because they were small enough for him to pick up and enjoy. This recipe is just an example of how to maximize the use of mini muffin pans so feel free to experiment and be creative! You can use any filling you’d like so don’t limit yourself to garlic, leeks and bacon. And with the holidays coming up in a few months, you can tuck this recipe for later or come up with other filling variations to prepare for those festive parties…
recipe adapted from Serious Eats
1 package prepared pie crust dough (or homemade if you prefer)
2 heads garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
4 thick slices smoked bacon
1 medium leek
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Coarse sea salt
Heat oven to 350°F.
Season garlic with kosher salt and pepper and coat with olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake until soft, about 1 hour. Squeeze each head of garlic through a ricer to remove skins and create a paste, or squeeze out garlic flesh from each clove by pressing with the side of a chef’s knife.
Slice bacon into lardons and sauté in a small skillet over medium-low heat until crispy, about 15 minutes.
While bacon cooks, julienne the leeks and throw away the dark green tops. Submerge the cut leeks in cool water and swirl to clean off all dirt and grit. Drain and dry thoroughly with a salad spinner or paper towels.
When most of the bacon fat has rendered, add leeks to skillet, still at a medium low heat. Season lightly with kosher salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and sweet, about 20 – 30 minutes.
Prepare the crusts for a mini muffin pan by rolling a small piece of pie dough into a ball the size of a quarter. Place the ball of dough into each well of the mini muffin pan. Carefully press the ball of dough into the well and up the sides of the muffin pan to create the crusts.
Place a small dollop of the garlic paste into each mini muffin well. Top with half of the leeks and bacon and half of the mozzarella.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve slightly cooled.