Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Tart by Any Other Name

Please don't tell anyone, but my pots and pans are talking to me. It always happens around this time of year as the temperature dips and the leaves start falling from the trees around the house. Just the other day I distinctly heard my 9 1/2 quart Le Creuset whisper, "Choucroute would be lovely. Or maybe a nice braised lamb."

Bacon crispy, onions browned: Check!

As if that weren't enough, the tart pan began chiming in. "Quiche is really easy, you know. And you could use those Jonagold apples for a tasty tart." So it was with some relief that I read a recent e-mail from Luan at Foster & Dobbs and discovered it contained a recipe for an onion and bacon tart. Maybe that would shut that pan up for a few days!

And, btw, it was delicious. Now to silence the Le Creuset...

Fall Onion & Bacon Tart

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter or frozen margarine
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. ice water

3 slices good bacon
1 big onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of sugar
1 c. milk or Half & Half or cream if you’re feeling indulgent
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
Generous pinch of salt
4-5 oz. mountain cheese (use a good full flavored cow’s milk cheese like Spahn, Fontina D’Aosta, or Gruyere), grated

Cut together flour, butter, and salt in a small bowl with a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles an uneven, coarse meal with some pea-sized butter lumps. Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and blend (or process) until incorporated. Squeeze a little in your fist. If it crumbles, add a little more water, blend in and squeeze again. Repeat if necessary, but don’t work the dough too much or it will be tough. When you’re satisfied, press dough into a disk about five inches across, and chill for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Roll out dough so it will fit in a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press it into the pan and up the sides, and then pierce it with a fork. Freeze 10 minutes. Line it with foil and fill with beans or pie weights [I use heavy-duty aluminum foil alone] and then bake crust 10 minutes. Take out the weights and foil and bake until it’s starting to turn golden, maybe 10-15 minutes more. Pull it out and let it cool while you make the filling.

In a medium skillet, sauté the bacon over medium-low heat until it’s crisp and has rendered its fat. Pull out the bacon and drain on paper towels. Raise the heat to medium and sauté the onion in the drippings with a pinch of sugar until they’re deep golden brown (15-20 minutes). Spread the onions over the bottom of the crust, break bacon into bite-size pieces and sprinkle over onions. Top with grated cheese. Blend together the milk, eggs, salt and pepper, then pour into the crust.

Bake until filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool tart on rack for a few minutes and then remove pan sides. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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