Vidalia Onion Tart
Served warm or room temperature with a green salad, this is a decadent and delectable vegetarian dream!
There is nothing better. Truly. Individual or full-size, this tart is so darn good. The onions are sweet and caramelized, but also savory from the perfect balance of thyme, sea salt, and black pepper. It takes nearly an hour to sweat these onions to perfection, to become a compote. Deliciously golden brown caramelized onions are best made with a lot of patience. They take time to go from firm, bitter, white arcs to soft, sweet, golden swirls. But it's so worth it!
Equipment: large mixing bowl; dry and wet measuring cup; measuring spoons; cutting board; paring or chef’s knife; food processor (optional); 9-inch fluted pan; parchment paper; pie weights or dried beans; large sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid; wooden spoon
for the pie dough: 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon powdered sugar 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 ¼ cup cold unsalted butter (2 ½ sticks) 1/3 cup ice water
for the onion compote:
6 Vidalia onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced lengthwise from root to top 3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 large eggs, beaten
1. First make the dough:
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 for at least one hour.
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, and form it into two discs; if not, drizzle a bit more ice water over the dough and pulse again, then gather the dough, and form it into two discs, wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.
“There is nothing quite as good as a homemade piecrust. Tender and flaky, buttery and golden, the right dough makes the pie truly great. It is so easy to make, there really is no reason to buy it.”
2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Once the dough has chilled for at least an hour, roll out one piece of dough on a floured surface into a 12-inch round (reserve the second disc for another use or freeze tightly seeled for a later date). Press it into a 9-inch fluted pan, cover with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. "Blind bake" the tart shell for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the parchment paper and beans, and set the tart pan aside.
3. Place the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted and frothy, add the sliced onions and stir constantly for a few minutes over medium-high heat to cover every onion with fat. Sprinkle with the salt and place a tight-fitting lid on the pan and lower the heat to medium, allowing the onions “sweat” for several minutes until they soften and reduce in volume.
4. Remove the lid and add the thyme and sugar, stirring to incorporate. Return the heat to medium-high. Do not stir constantly or the onions will not brown efficiently.
Let the sugars develop on the bottom of the pan, scrape them with a wooden spoon, and reincorporate them back in to the onions to get that delectable depth of flavor and color.
Having trouble getting the browned bits off the pan? ILOC tip: Throw ¼ cup water in the pan and immediately stir vigorously. The water dissolves the sugars so you can spread them throughout the onions, and then it evaporates!
5. Continue cooking the onions this way--scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and reincorporating them back into the sautéed onions--for 30-40 minutes until the the onions become a dark mahogany brown. Add the black pepper, taste, ad add moe salt if needed.
6. Remove the onion compote to a mixing bowl and allow it to cool for 15 minutes before mixing in the beaten egg. Add the onion-egg mixture to the tart shell and bake at 375F for 25 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for several minute before lifting the tart from the fluted ring. Serve warm or room temperature.
Makes 8-12 servings.
“Everything matters: the way the onion is cut, the time taken to caramelize the onion, the method of returning the fond in the pan back to the onions, the proper pastry crust and its blind baking, the right ratio of egg to onion.”