Potato Bacon Cheddar Tart2011-01-23
One of the cookbooks received this year was The Best of Chef at Home by Michael Smith, which by chance is the same cookbook I gave one of my brothers last year. Smith is a Food Network chef in Canada so we can’t get him here in the States. You would think with all the re-runs down here they would put some of the Canadian stars on the US channel. Anyway, as I peeled open this book, one of the recipes I found had potato, bacon and cheddar in a very interesting tart form. I thought this would be a great New Year’s Eve addition to the planned meal that included filet mignon and decided we would give it a try.
All of the ingredients were collected and I grabbed my trusty mandolin to do the laborious potato slicing. The basic concept is very interesting and perfect for entertaining. Layers of potatoes, onions and cheddar cheese wrapped top and bottom in bacon. A very tasty and attractive side dish. The recipe called for a 10-12 inch non-stick baking pan so the only thing I came up with was a springform pan. Next I took another look at the recipe and it said bake at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours. It was already dark outside so this was not going to be good. So much for my 2011 goals of being more organized. I looked at my wife and said this is why microwaves and convection cooking were invented. I pre-cooked the potatoes in the microwave and then accelerated some of the cooking with the convection oven. Dinner was a lot later than planned regardless.
The recipe overall was very good and the cheddar that you choose will make a difference in the flavor. We added additional herbs as it seemed that it would be bland without. There was a lot of grease that came out from all of the bacon and we planned that some would leak out of the springform pan so we placed it on a wire rack on a baking sheet to collect the fat drippings while it cooked. Once cooked, the tart came out very easy and it cut into wedges much better than I expected.
The only downside was that some of the coating on the springform pan bubbled from the hot bacon grease. After I removed the tart it was clear that it would peel more, so the pan was ruined. So much for that idea. Later I noted that someone put this in a non-stick saute pan with some parchment on the bottom. I think we will do that next time and it might even crisp up the bacon better. Overall, the tart was delicious. You can hardly go wrong with a combination of potato, bacon and cheese.
2 pounds or so of room temperature bacon
1 minced onion
4 minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp of minced fresh thyme
4 cups of grated medium aged cheddar
5 or 6 large unpeeled baking potatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a ten-inch, non-stick baking or sauté pan with a small round of parchment paper. Next arrange the bacon in a radial pattern from the center of the bottom of the pan to the lower edge of the rim and continuing up and over it. Let the ends hang over and this will wrap the top. Overlap each slice slightly around the sides of the pan and stagger every other piece starting it two inches from the center and extending it further than the adjacent slices. Once done, flatten the center area, leaving no gaps in the bacon. Season the bacon with pepper then sprinkle on several tablespoons of the grated cheddar.
Slice the potatoes as uniformly as you can, about a quarter inch thick. Arrange them in a circular pattern of overlapping slices around the inside bottom edge of the pan and continue layers of the potatoes until the bottom is evenly covered. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Mix together the onions, herbs and garlic and sprinkle some of the mixture onto the potatoes. Continue with a layer of the grated cheese. Cover with another layer of the potato pressing it down firmly before continuing with alternate layers of the potatoes, onion mixture and cheese until the pan is full. Continue with more layers making them a bit smaller each time. Fold the overhanging bacon over the top of the potatoes. Trim a small piece of parchment paper and place it in between an ovenproof lid and the bacon.
Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for at least two and a half to three hours. You’ll know it’s done when a small thin bladed knife inserts easily. Let the fat around the edges drain as much as possible. Allow the tart stand for fifteen minutes then carefully cover with a plate and flip over. Slide onto a cutting surface. Slice into wedges and serve immediately. You can refrigerate any leftovers and reheat them later it in a microwave which were just as excellent if not better the second day.
Source: Michael Smith – Chef at Home
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