I have always been a huge fan of the onion family — raw, sautéed, grilled, whatever, however — you name it and I love it.
As a kid, my family used to be alternately amused and disgusted when I would stuff my face with fresh chives from my grandma’s garden. I would eat so many, my eyes would practically water but yet I couldn’t stop. Then I would run around and breath on people. Yeah, I was a charmer.
So when I saw this recipe for an onion honey tart made with puff pastry, I was sold. I have been meaning to make this forever, well since February 2011, but I never have créme fraiche around. The fact that I just wrote that sentence is one of the many things I miss about being a professional cook. In a restaurant, everything is accessible, especially in a fine-dining kitchen where Marcona almonds, Epoisse cheese and foie gras are always around. Not that I encourage stealing from work, but I doubt if anyone would have missed a scant half cup of créme fraiche. Of course, it wasn’t hard to find it in a more honest fashion — I bought a little container at an upscale grocery store and it certainly wasn’t expensive, about $6 for 7 oz. And now that I have some left in my fridge, I’m sure I can find a few more recipes I need to make soon.
But back to the delicious onion tart. First off, easiest appetizer ever! That is why I love puff pastry, it’s versatile and uncomplicated. I need to remember to always keep a box in my freezer because it just instantly makes simple things like onions look fancy. And since DB was headed over to my place to cook, I needed to find a fun snack for us to nibble on while we worked.
One thing that I thought was curious about this tart was the process for caramelizing the onions. Instead of using a pan, which is pretty much always my go-to method, the recipe has you toss the raw onions in wine, honey and bacon fat. Luckily while I don’t stock things like créme fraiche or shredded boneless chicken breasts, I do have a jar of bacon grease in my fridge. Spread the onions out on a sheet pan and let them bake in the oven until they are golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. You have a little less control over of the darkness of the onions, unless you stand right beside the oven, but that defeats the easiness of baking them. And I have no problem confessing my laziness.
The rest of the tart is simple — roll out the pastry, crimp the edges, spread on the créme fraiche and bake until bubbly. If you looked at the actual recipe and then at my picture, you may notice two things are missing. One is bacon. Don’t judge me for this but I like to think of myself as a bacon purest. I like bacon on its own, crispy, fatty, salty bacon. I don’t like it in things where it fights both in texture and in flavor with the other ingredients. This means bacon on burger=no, BLTs=no, bacon in pasta=no. There are always exceptions, but they are rare. So even though this recipe called for actual bacon to be sprinkled on top, I stuck with just the bacon fat for the onions. All the flavor but none of the chewiness. Call me crazy, it’s okay, you won’t be the first or the last person to do so.
The second lost ingredient is the thyme. I have no excuse for this, I just forgot to buy some. Quite honestly, as nice as some herbs might have been, they certainly weren’t a necessity. The stand-out in the dish are the onions and that’s all you need to focus on.