Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bacon, chard and walnut tart

I've never had a lot of success with tarts.

A lot of tart recipes call for complicated crusts, which turns me (and most everyone else) off. The few times I've attempted a tart, I made my standard pie crust recipe instead--which clung to the inside of the tart pan and essentially ruined the tart-ness of the tart. In later years, when my crappy yard-sale tart pan gave out, I just made the "tart" in a pie pan, with a pie crust.

Well, the other day I was at Williams-Sonoma picking up a salad spinner, and I noticed several kinds of tart pans on their sale table. It was on sale, it was good quality, I no longer owned a tart pan, so I picked one up.

And lo, this recipe for a Bacon, Chard and Walnut Tart fell into my lap.

And lo! I already had all of the ingredients! Including a brand-new tart pan!

Now I know why my tarts always failed--a flaky pie crust will cling to the inside of the tart pan. You want a more crumbly crust, like this one, which was way easier to put together than I thought it would be. This may turn out to be my default tart crust from now on.

Reprinted here, from Food52:

Serves 8

Walnut Tart Crust:

1 1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup walnut meal (made from whirring walnuts in a blender until fine)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup toasted walnut oil
1/2 cup ice water (you probably won't use it all)

Bacon, Chard and Walnut Filling:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, heated in a hot skillet for a minute or two until "toasted" (be careful not to burn them)
1 cup chopped thickly sliced bacon
1 cup chopped sweet/Vidalia onion
1 tablespoon toasted walnut oil
1 bunch green chard leaves, chopped
4 eggs, preferably organic and free-range
1/2 cup organic heavy cream
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for optional garnish
1 pinch sea salt
dash of ground black pepper

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, walnut meal, and the salt.
2.Add the toasted walnut oil and mix well.
3.Add about 1/4 cup of the water, and using your hands, mix until it starts to form a dough. Add more water, a tablespoon or so at a time, and keep using your hands to mix until it comes together into a ball.
4.Roll out into a little bigger than the bottom of your tart pan on a floured surface. It's ok if it falls apart a little- it's better not to overwork it and just to press the extra pieces into the tart pan.
5.Rub the bottom and sides of your tart pan with toasted walnut oil and then transfer the rolled-out dough into the tart pan. Using the heel of your hand (or whatever that part of your hand under your thumb is called), press the dough into the bottom and half-way up the sides of your tart pan. Any pieces that broke off while you were rolling can be pressed in now. I am all for charmingly rustic tart crusts, so don't worry if it doesn't look perfect.
6.Prick the crust all over with the tines of a fork, then cover with a layer of foil and place pie weights or a layer of dried beans on top. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the weights/beans and foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until crust just starts to brown and become fragrant. Set aside while you make the tart filling; reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
7.In a cast-iron skillet, cook chopped bacon for several minutes, until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Pour half the bacon fat into another skillet and leave the rest where it is.
8.Add chopped onion to one of the skillets along with the tablespoon of toasted walnut oil. Cook for about 20 minutes over low heat, stirring every now and then, until well caramelized.
9.In the other skillet, cook the chard over low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes. until fully wilted. When the onions are done, combine them with the chard, the toasted walnuts, and the cooked bacon in a large bowl. Add the thyme leaves and mix well.
10.Add the eggs, cream, and maple syrup to a small bowl and whisk until blended. Add this to the bacon mixture and combine. Pour into the par-baked tart shell.
11.Place the filled tart pan on a cookie sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the center of the tart is set, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing the tart from the outside and bottom of the pan; garnish with additional fresh thyme if desired before serving.
Notes: This is WAY better made ahead of time and reheated, as the filling will thicken more and the flavors will meld better. A perfect thing to make ahead for a fancy brunch.

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