Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tarte Flambee (From Alsace)

It's getting to be the time of year when we want to cook outside. So the grill gets to become the star. Our favorite things to put on the grill are flat breads of one kind or another. We use pizza stones directly over the grill grates to help moderate and even out the cooking. Sometimes we do simple pizzas, sometimes other dishes. Yesterday was no exception. We had an old friend over for dinner and wanted to do a dish that she had never tried.
While tidying the cook book shelves the other day, I came across a book we had bought on a trip to Alsace several (about 10!) years ago. What better time to try one of the Alsacien classics. Hence Tarte Flambee.
Tarte Flambee is like a very thin crust pizza and is traditionally made using bacon, onions, and cream. Of course the recipe book was rather vague as to technique, cooking, etc. So some detective work was required.
So this is what I ended up doing:

Ingredients - 3 x 10" (25cm) Tartes


300 gm bread flour
175 gm water (room temperature)
1tsp instant dry yeast
2T olive oil
1tsp kosher salt


2 medium onions sliced pole to pole in crescents
6 slices thick cut smoked bacon
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2t finely grated fresh nutmeg
finely ground black pepper to taste



Mix the dough ingredients together (i usually add the yeast to the water first, but am told that is unnecessary). After they are well mixed, knead for 10 minutes by hand or 6 minutes in a mixer (e.g. KitchenAid). The dough wants to be smooth and elastic. It will be relatively dry. This is typically less water than I use when making artisinal breads (58% or so hydration for those who care). This dryer dough is much easier to roll out than the relatively wet (65+%) doughs I make for normal consumption.
Place in an oiled (use the same kind of oil as you used in the dough) bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave to rise n a warm place until about doubled in volume.
When risen, remove from bowl, knead a few times and divide into three pieces (each weighing about 160gm). Form these into individual balls until you are ready to use them. Time here is fairly flexible. From beginning to mix until rolling out was 3 hours. However you can speed up/slow down the process by controlling the temperature. If the first rise is going too fast, then it does little harm to slow it down by refrigerating the dough. However, always make sure that the dough is covered when in the fridge. It can pick up off odors and dry out very quickly (both extremely undesirable individually, and deadly in combination).

Topping (can be prepared several hours in advance).

Cook the bacon lightly until much of the fat has rendered, but the meat is not crisp. You want it the same sort of texture as Canadian bacon. Cut into batons about 1/4" wide. Set the bacon aside
Slice the onions and sweat in a little oil without salt for about 10 minutes until translucent. Set the onions aside.


Preheat the grill for about 30 minutes on as high heat as you can muster. The whole cooking time for one tarte is about 2 minutes.
For each dough ball, roll out thinly until it is 10" in diameter. Place the disk onto a peel with cornmeal on it to prevent sticking. Brush with a little oil. Ladle 1/4 cup of heavy cream onto the dough disk. Make sure you get close to the edge. Spread 1/3 of the onion and 1/3 of the bacon on each. Grate some nutmeg over the top, add a few grinds of pepper if desired.
Off to the grill! Cook on the pizza stone with the grill lid closed for around 2 minutes. You want a slight char on the bottom of the crust.


This dish goes well with a simple salad - although we served it with a Caesar salad and (of all things!) a Vinho Verde with its slight bubbles and yound, fresh taste.

No comments: