This recipe was originally developed by Ris Lacoste, our former sous-chef. Ris is currently the chef of 1789 Restaurant in Georgetown. This tart makes a nice passed hors d’oeuvre or it can be served as a first course with a small salad garnish. The tart can be made in any type of tart pan or sheet pan and cut into portions, or it can be made as mini tartlets. As a passed canapé, the mini tarts provide a prettier presentation and are easier to eat as finger food. The trick to making this tart successfully is to cook the onions slowly so they become very brown and the natural sugars caramelize. It is the same procedure as for a great onion soup. Store-bought puff pastry can be substituted for the pâte brisée.—Bob Kinkead
For the pâte brisée
18 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon butter, chilled
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 extra large eggs
For the tarts
1 recipe pâte brisée
3 tablespoons butter
2 large yellow onions, halved and cut into julienne strips (about 7 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 extra-large egg, plus 1 extra-large egg yolk
3/4 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
Make the pâte brisée
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the flour, butter, and salt. Pulse several times to form pea-sized lumps. Add the vinegar and eggs and pulse to form a moist, crumbly mixture. Do not overprocess.
2. Turn out the dough onto a work surface and knead a few times by hand. Cut in half and roll into 1-inch-thick disks. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month.
Make the tarts
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
2. Remove the pâte brisée from the refrigerator and when warm enough to be pliable, roll out to about 1/8 inch thick. Form the brisée into 2- to 4-inch tart molds. Bake the shells for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool.
3. In a saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When bubbly, add the onions. Cook down for 45 minutes, or until the onions are very brown and sweet, stirring from time to time to prevent the onions from sticking. Let cool.
4. In a stainless steel bowl, combine the heavy cream, crème fraîche, egg, yolk, and cheese to make a custard. Stir in the salt and pepper and set aside. (You may want to use less salt, depending on the saltiness of the Roquefort.)
5. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C). Fill the tart shells about two-thirds full with the cooked onions. Top with the walnuts. Pour the custard mixture over the walnuts and onions. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe © 2004 by Bob Kinkead. All rights reserved.