As hearty as it is elegant, this pie is perfect for entertaining, especially at brunch!
This Alsatian Potato Pie is adapted from Chef Andre Soltner's The Lutèce Cookbook. I have had the pleasure of knowing Chef Soltner both as a diner at Lutèce in New York, and as culinary student and then alumna at what is now called the International Culinary Center. Chef Soltner is one of the acclaimed chefs who popularized fine French food in the U.S. in the 1960s. His Alsatian roots, however, were always part of his culinary narrative, and Tréflaï is a glorious expression if his rooms and memories of his mother's cooking. The simplicity of a superb pastry shell (my recipe) paired with the perfect trinity of eggs, bacon, and cream (his influence) requires nothing more than a simple green salad to be enjoyed to the fullest. The following recipe is my take on this most delectable dish.
Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; food processor (optional); mandolin (optional); mixing bowls; rubber spatula; sauté pan; wooden spoon; 9- or 10-inch springform pan; pastry brush
Pastry Ingredients: 2½ cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon powdered sugar 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1¼ cup cold unsalted butter (2 ½ sticks) 1/3 cup ice water
By hand: Combine the flour, kosher salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoon chunks, then cut each tablespoon into quarters. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and squeeze the butter with the tips of your fingers, working it into the flour, until the fat is the size of peas. Drizzle the water over the mixture and continue working the dough with your fingers until all that fat and flour is incorporated and the dough comes together in a large ball.
Gather the dough, form it into two discs, wrap each in plastic and refrigerate.
In the food processor: Combine the flour, kosher salt, and sugar in a food processor for 10 seconds. Cut the butter into tablespoon chunks and scatter over the flour mixture (while the machine is off). Very carefully pulse in 2-second intervals until the fat is the size of peas. With the machine turned off, drizzle the water over the mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to form into small balls. If the dough will come together when pressed with your fingers, gather the dough, form it into two discs, wrap each in plastic and refrigerate. If not, drizzle a bit more ice water over the dough and pulse again. Gather the dough, form it into two discs, wrap each in plastic and refrigerate.
5 slices of thick slab bacon, cut into lardons (¼-inch crosswise strips)
5 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
6 eggs, hardboiled and sliced thin
¼ cup finely chopped parsley leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup heavy cream
1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons cold water
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Sauté the bacon in a pan until lightly browned but still soft, for about 2-3 minutes. Drain the bacon and set aside (save the bacon fat for another day to roast potatoes or vegetables.)
3. Roll the first disc of dough to about 12 inches in diameter to fit inside the springform pan. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the edge of the pan and place the pan in the refrigerator to chill.
4. Meanwhile, wash the potato slices in cold water and drain and dry thoroughly. Toss them with the parsley, plus salt and pepper to taste.
5. Remove the springform pan from the refrigerator. Arrange a layer of overlapping potato slices in the bottom of the pastry shell using half the potatoes. Top with bacon, then with the egg slices. Drizzle the heavy cream over the top of the eggs. Place the final overlapping layer of potatoes on top.
6. Roll the remaining pastry disc into 9-inch round. Brush the exposed pastry dough in the springform pan with the egg-and-water mixture (egg wash). Place the round pastry dough on top to cover the pie. Trim the dangling pastry with a paring knife or scissors. Crimp the dough to seal. Make three slashes in the center top of the dough with a pairing knife. Brush the top with the egg wash.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for 1 hour more. Then lower the temperature one final time to 300°F and bake for a final 10 minutes.
8. Let the pie rest for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan and serving. This also can be served room temperature after resting for a few hours.
Makes 6-8 servings.