Dinner

By Tara O'Keeffe | April 7, 2011

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

While everyone loves a sweet tart-with it’s buttery and flakey crust-the dough that is the base for America’s beloved apple pie also makes a delicious savory tart. Pate Brisee, or broken dough, is one of the simplest recipes in French pastry. Requiring only 4 ingredients (5 if you count water) and taking less than 10 minutes to prepare, it’s a recipe all home cooks should know.

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

As we transition from winter to spring you can still find a colorful variety of fingerling potatoes at the market, and their creamy texture makes them the perfect ingredient to star in a savory tart. The potatoes are parboiled, sliced thin, tossed with a simple cream/egg mixture, and layered in a pre-baked tart shell along with thinly sliced red onions, fresh thyme, and lots of fragrant Gruyere cheese.

This recipe is easy to put together, can be made almost entirely in advance, and makes a gorgeous lunch paired with a simple green salad, or a hearty side to a roasted chicken for dinner. I chose to make these into individual tarts, but you could easily bake this in a small sheet pan and slice into squares, or in a full-size tart pan and cut into wedges.

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

This dish only requires 1/2 a recipe of pate brisee, but make the full amount anyway, extra dough can be frozen easily and is a lifesaver to have in your freezer.

Pate Brisee Recipe courtesy Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts - Makes enough for 2 (9-inch) tarts

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

Potato, Gruyere and Red Onion Tart Recipe adapted from Chef DJ Olsen of Lou Wine Bar, Hollywood, CA - Makes 4 individual tarts, or 1 (9-inch) tart

Tara O’Keeffe is a food writer and author of FunFearlessFoodie.com

Pate Brisee
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes 1/4 to 1/2 cup
For Tarts
  • 1/2 recipe pate brisee
  • 1/2 lb fingerling potatoes(about 8 potatoes)
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded

Directions

For Pate Brisee:

1. Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor (or whisk together by hand in a bowl). Add butter and pulse (or cut with a pastry blender) until it resembles coarse meal, with some larger pieces remaining. Drizzle a 1/4 cup of water over mixture and pulse (or mix with a fork) until it just holds together. If dough is too dry, add 1/4 cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse (or mix with a fork).

2. Divide dough in half onto two pieces of plastic wrap, shape each one into a ball, wrap well, press into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a day. If not using the second half of dough right away, wrap again and store in the freezer for up to 3 months; thaw in the refrigerator before using.

For the tart shell:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll dough out to a large circle, 1/8-inch thick. Trace individual tart shells (or 1 large one) leaving a 1-inch border so enough dough can fold over the sides. If the dough is firm enough, carefully remove the cut out dough and lay inside the tart shell, pressing in to the sides so it's even (if the dough is too soft to work with, place back in the refrigerator until it firms up). Remove the excess dough overlapping the edge of the shell (if necessary) and place inside the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

3. Remove the tart shell(s) and dock the base of the shell with the tines of a fork, about every 1/2-inch, to ensure the dough doesn't puff up during baking. Bake in the oven until golden brown and cooked through, 22 to 25 minutes. Allow tart to cool before filling.

For the filling

4. While the tart shell is baking, place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water; bring to a boil and cook until a knife easily pierces the flesh with no resistance; remove and let cool. As the potatoes are cooling, slice 1/2 a red onion into thin slivers, whisk the egg and cream together in a bowl, and pick your thyme leaves. Slice the cooled potatoes 1/4-inch thick on the bias and add to the cream/egg mixture; season with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.

To assemble

Evenly distribute the red onion slices into the base of the tart(s); top with the potato mixture, sprinkle with thyme, and cover with gruyere cheese (if making in advance, stop here, cover and refrigerate up to a day). Bake at 350 degrees F until the cheese is melted and the tart is heated through, about 15 minutes. For an extra golden, cheesy crust, place the tart under the broiler for another 2 minutes. Serve warm.

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