Monday, December 14, 2009

Tarte a l'onion style Alsace

OK. I looked at a lot of recipes for this pie and I have come to the conclusion that this is a family recipe, meaning each family makes it their own way. This is MY way. There's no right/wrong, Gordon Ramsay be damned and yes, I WOULD win against him!

Here's what you'll need:

4 - 5 large onions - 2.5 lbs
1/2 package sliced, fatty bacon
Fresh Thyme leaves
18% cream or 33% if you want
2 large eggs
1 bottle of dark beer - any beer will do but dark is nice
Ground nutmeg
Ground cloves
1c grated Gruyère cheese
Pastry for pie shell
fluted pie plate - or your basic 12" pie plate.

2 sifted cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup COLD lard or butter. NO, not margarine. It doesn't work.
1/8th tsp Creme of Tartar and NO do not skip this
1/8th tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1/4c ice water

Now do exactly what I say.

Sift the dry ingredients together
cut the lard/butter into smallish chunks, into the flour

Get your hands in there and start squishing the butter into the flour, rubbing the mixture with your fingers. Do this quickly so the butter doesn't warm up any more than it has to. It's right when it looks like really coarse oatmeal.

Mix the egg yolk into the water
Pour 1/2 the water into the dry ingredient

With a fork, stir the mixture up. Add 1/2 the remaining water and mix again with the fork. Scrumple the mix up with two hands. If it feels like it could be rolled out without breaking apart, it's done. If it needs a bit more water, add a BIT more. Once you can scrumple it into a ball, stick it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge.

Heat a deep saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat
Cut up that bacon across the strips into 1/2 inch pieces and then layer it into the bottom of your pan

Cut onions in half top to bottom and then into half rings. Doing it this way saves your fingers (because you're going to lay the flat side of the onions down before you slice 'em) and gives you nice rings.

Throw the onions in with the bacon, which should have begun to brown. Stir well to coat the onions with bacon fat; reduce the heat to just under medium. Stir occasionally as the onions cook down.

When the onions begin to be transparent, add a pinch of nutmeg and pinch of cloves; couple pinches salt and ground pepper. You can adjust these seasonings again later.

The onions will take almost an hour to caramelise over medium heat, so get a glass of wine and a book. Do not let the onions burn or stick. Turn the heat down if they begin to crisp. Meanwhile, open that beer, pour 1 cup into the onions and drink the rest. Turn the heat down a bit more, slap on a lid and drink 1/2 your glass of wine. Stir the pot occasionally.

The onions will turn a very gorgeous caramel colour. There will be liquid now, so take the lid off, turn the heat up slightly and let the liquid cook down.

While the liquid is cooking off, roll out your dough to a scant 1/4 inch thick circle (on a slightly floured board with a slightly floured rolling pin (an empty wine bottle works great too so get drinkin')

Place the pastry into the pie plate. The easy way is to roll the pastry over the rolling pin/wine bottle and then unroll it over the plate.

Pat the pastry nicely into the shell and then pinch the edges around the pie plate. Cut away the excess and save... you'll have lots of extra and I'm going to tell you next how to make Les Pettes de Soeur...

Now. Get a sieve over a large bowl and dump the onions into it - drain off the extra liquid.. just let it sit there for a spell. Pour the juices into a sealable container and then dump the onions into the bowl. Stick 'em in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool

Beat 1/2c cream with two eggs. Get the onions and mix the milk and eggs and 3/4c of the cheese into them. Then dump the whole lot into your nice pie shell. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake at 375F for 40 minutes - and keep an eye on your pie crust... don't want it to burn. If it looks done in 35 minutes, take the pie out.

Serve with a salad. This serves six people easily.

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