04. August 2014 · Comments Off on The Rustic Tart: Impressive but Easy · Categories: Cooking, Food · Tags: , , , , , ,

Rustic bacon, cheddar, and carmelized tartDepending on what you fill it with and who you talk to, the free-form tart is also known as a croustade or galette. It is, in essence, a round of simple pastry crust onto which a few layers of flavorful sweet or savory ingredients have been piled, and the edges folded up. A pie without a pan. They look and taste delicious, and can be really easy to do. The photo to the left is of a croustade made with caramelized onions, and pre-cooking the onions was the most difficult and time consuming part. They’re also a great intro to baking, because they don’t have to be picture-perfect. They’re supposed to be a little rough, a bit wonky… rustic’s right in the name. If you can roll out dough into a roughly circular shape and spread jam on bread, you can make one of these.

So, I give you Rustic Bacon, Cheddar, and Caramelized Onion Tart, or if you want to be fancy about it, Croustade aux fromage avec oignons et lardons. Put that on your dinner party e-vite or next potluck signup list!

Caramelized Onions:

First, the tedious part of this dish. If you were using sliced fruit instead, you would simply toss the slices with some sugar, pile into the crust, and dot with butter. This is a bit more work. I prefer the oven method even though it takes longer, because you don’t have to constantly be babysitting the stove to prevent burning the sugar-laden onions.

3-4 sweet yellow onions
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

Hardware:

Dutch oven or other heavy baking vessel of at least 6 qt. capacity
Oven

Preheat oven to 425F. Peel, halve, and slice three large yellow onions (or four medium). Toss with a half-teaspoon of kosher salt and two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a dutch oven or other large oven-safe vessel. Place in oven, covered, for 2-2/12 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes. If onions are very wet, remove cover for 10-15 minutes or until most of the moisture evaporates. When done, onions should be a deep amber color and very sweet. Remove from hot pot and let cool.

Pastry Dough:

With a food processor, this really takes about 10 minutes to put together. I recommend cutting up your butter and then popping it back in the freezer for 15-20 minutes while you prep the rest of your workspace. BTW – you really do need to measure for pastry by weight if you want consistency. And yes, ice water means exactly what it sounds like – but only add the cold water, not the ice cubes!

5 oz very cold butter, cut into small cubes
7 ½ oz. unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
½ tsp kosher salt
4-5 tbsp ice water

Hardware:

Food processor with 7-cup bowl and regular chopping blade
Parchment paper
Gallon Ziploc baggie

Add flour and salt to bowl of food processor, and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter butter cubes on top of flour, and pulse 6-8 times or until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs (coarse cornmeal is another comparison). Then, with the processor running, add 4 tbsp of the ice water to bring the dough together into a ball. If the dough is still crumbly, add the remaining 1 tbsp water. Turn out onto parchment paper, lightly knead into a firm ball, flatten into a 1″ thick disc, wrap, place into a gallon ziploc bag, press out the air and seal, and place into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to rest.

The Tart:

Do not be afraid. It’s just rolling some dough, spreading some stuff on top, and folding over the edge on a circle. There’s nothing that can go wrong here that doesn’t add to the charm of the final product. If you were using a sweet instead of savory filling, after brushing with the egg wash it would not be a bad thing to sprinkle the crust with coarse sugar. Here’s a few more suggestions for tart fillings.

Pastry Dough from above
Caramelized Onions from above
4 oz aged sharp white cheddar
8 oz thick-cut bacon
1 egg white
Water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Flour

Hardware:

Oven/Stove
Rolling pin (a clean hardwood closet dowel rod works too)
Parchment paper
Small skillet
Slotted Spoon
Box grater
Baking sheet

Preheat your oven to 400F. Place the top rack in the center position.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat until hot. Add vegetable oil and heat until the surface shimmers. Add bacon. When bacon begins to brown, reduce heat to medium-low and render until just crispy. Remove from heat, and remove bacon pieces from drippings with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Grate cheese on the large-hole side of a box grater.

Remove pastry dough from refrigerator and place disc on a 20” section of parchment paper that has been lightly floured. Lightly flour the top of the disc, and roll out into roughly a 13” circle, about ⅛” thick. Pinch closed any large cracks. Staying about 2” away from the edge of the pastry circle, make a layer with ⅔ of the shredded cheese. Then scatter the bacon pieces evenly over the cheese layer. Take a large spoon or spatula and spread the caramelized onions in an even layer over all of the bacon and cheese. Top with the remaining cheddar.

Using the parchment to assist, fold the 2” edge of the pastry all the way around the filling, pressing or pinching lightly to seal in place. The idea here is not a picture-perfect pie crust, but just to fold the edge over the filling in 2-3″ sections to contain it.

Thin the egg white with about a teaspoon of cold water and lightly whisk to form a wash. With a pastry brush, brush all the visible surfaces of the crust with the egg mixture. Slide the parchment with the tart onto a sheet pan, and place in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until filling is bubbly and the crust is a golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Slide from parchment onto a cutting board and slice into wedges to serve.

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