La tarte à l’oignon, up close and rustic
The house smelled absolutely edible the evening I made this tart. Onions and heat are a divine pair for a few hungry people at the end of the day, especially when those onions are ever so patiently caramelized until translucent and melted. One bite of a caramelized onion tart might draw in all your senses leaving you with the sound of “mmm.”
Caramelizing does take patience, but it’s simple to do if you have a little olive oil, low, low heat, and onions. Stir them from time to time, partially cover the pan if need-be. Do something else while they are cooking, or you will get impatient, turn up the heat, and end up with burned and crunchy onions, as I always did in the past. As long as the heat is really low, there is not much risk of burning. A pâte brisée (crust) is also simple to make by hand and can be made ahead of time, or even frozen. I simply garnished with fresh thyme, which zipped sprucely on the tongue and made a lovely color contrast.
A slice of onion tart waiting to be devoured
The Recipe for an Onion Tart:1 pâte brisée (I promise to post a good explanation for basic recipes very soon! And for anyone waiting for my pastry cream recipe to finish the Napoleon, I’ve got it. I just need to write out the step-by-step directions.) about 6-8 medium sized onions, sliced very thinly* olive oil fresh thyme for garnish *You can use onions of any size, using more or less to have enough to garnish your tart. I would love to try this with some big and sweet Vidalia onions next time I’m in the states.
In a large nonstick pan on the lowest heat, add a few good tablespoons of oil. Don’t be stingy or the onions don’t cook quite right. Stir from time to time, and if you get impatient or the onions seem to be drying out, partially cover the pan, but don’t turn up the heat!
Roll out the pâte brisée and shape or cut into a circle. Place onto a baking sheet by rolling the dough around your rolling-pin, as if you were rolling up a poster, then unroll it onto the baking sheet. I have nonstick baking sheets and don’t need to oil them, but if you are worried about sticking, oil the baking sheet just a little. Place in the fridge to keep cool. If you are working in a hot space, work quickly, or the butter in the dough beings to melt making your dough difficult to tinker with.
When your onions are nicely caramelized, remove from heat and allow to cool a little while you preheat the oven to about 375°F or 200°C. When the oven is ready, remove the tart crust from the fridge and evenly spread the onions across the surface, leaving a little border. Fold the border over to create the edge of the tart and place in the oven, near the bottom. I place it on a pizza stone. You want the crust to cook, but you don’t want the onions to blacken to cinders.
Cooking time depends much on your oven. I would say about 30 minutes. Check by looking at the color of the bottom of the tart, manipulating with care of course. A pâte brisée is fragile, especially when hot. If a good golden-brown color looks back at you and it looks yummy, go for it. If it’s still white, but your onions are darkening, cover them with a little aluminium foil while the bottom finishes cooking.
Serve warm with a big green salad. If it’s summer time, this works with a cool unpretentious (or slightly pretentious if you prefer) glass of rosé.