When in doubt about what to cook for large family gatherings, I’ve found that anything combining cheese and potatoes is sure to be a hit. My favorite crowd-pleasing side dishes include twice-baked potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes and creamy potatoes au gratin, all made with copious amounts of cheesy goodness.
Keeping that in mind, I decided to make this gorgeous-looking upside down potato onion tart to go with last Sunday’s Easter ham. That decision was a difficult one as I had never made the recipe before and cooking something for a group of people without a trial run is a little unusual for me. I’m a firm believer in trying recipes out before subjecting people to them!
But this recipe looked fairly simple to make and just reading the ingredient list gave me confidence: potatoes, onions, cheese, butter, herbs. With such humble and tasty ingredients, how could it not turn out delicious?
Happily, it was everything I wanted it to be — the potato layers were sandwiched between caramelized onions and sharp pecorino, making this a truly decadent dish. The edges (my favorite part) were crisp and cheesy and the center was creamy and luxurious. Surprisingly though, for all that flavor, the recipe used only a bit of butter and didn’t even call for cream!
Since I was cooking for nine adults, I tripled the recipe. We like to eat and I knew that any leftovers would be given a happy home. This change did require a slight variance from the directions.
The original recipe instructs you to go from the stove top to the oven using the same pan. Since I knew my cast-iron wouldn’t fit all of the extra potatoes, I greased up a 12-inch springform pan to use in the oven. I started out as instructed though, with a pan on the stovetop full of melted butter and sizzling rings of yellow onion.
As each ring became a deep golden brown I took it out of the pan and put it in the base of the springform. When the last onion ring was removed, I sautéed three minced cloves of garlic in a dab of butter. I had forgotten to buy thyme at store and figured this would pump up the flavor.
Once I had the bottom of the pan filled with caramelized onion rings, I layered in the potatoes and grated cheeses (I used a combination of mozzarella, Gruyère and pecorino). The garlic and any extra onions were added too, along with a good amount of salt and pepper. I added layers until I reached the top of the pan and then popped it in the oven.
This is what it looked like halfway through the cooking process.
After roughly 90 minutes, the potatoes were tender and the top layer was brown and crispy. I removed the pan from the oven and released the springform:
It was so beautiful I was tempted just to serve it like that, but I was dying to see the pretty onion rings on the other side. A quick pan flip later, and I was greeted with this:
In hindsight I wish I had gotten a bit more color on the onions as they didn’t get any darker in the baking process. And I wish I had squished more onion rings into the base layer.
But still, it was a masterpiece — a tasty, tasty masterpiece — and I can promise you I will be making this again and again!