Washington (the district, not the state) recently passed something called the Cider Act. Basically, this means the folks in DC passed a law that changes the way hard cider is taxed, for the benefit of those who imbibe and even more for those who brew so we can imbibe. Therefore, this new set of cider laws is a pretty big deal for the business of hard cider. Why do I even care? You may have noticed I’ve been including hard cider in some recipes lately. Like in the last two of three posts. I’ve a vested interest in hard cider these days. Actually, I’ve an interest in a handsome cider maker so, well, you know…
Ok, back to acts of cider. While I may not know exactly the ins and outs of the new laws, I am quite familiar with some older ones:
- Law 1: Cider goes really well with onions;
- Law 2: Cider goes really well with anything pork, especially in bacon form; and
- Law 3: Cider goes really well with apples (um…duh)
Of course, no law is worth the parchment it’s written on unless put into use. That dreamy cider maker I mentioned? He threw out the ‘using hard cider in recipes’ challenge a little while ago, and in the interest of scientific experimentation and democracy, I’ve come up with a few. Today’s Cider Braised Onion, Bacon and Apple Tart is the judicious application of my cider laws. God bless the legislative process.
Cider Braised Onion, Bacon and Apple Tart
Makes one 9″ x 13″ Tart
This is one of those recipes that can be done in stages so you can build it around your day and not the other way around (see…very democratic.) Cook the bacon ahead, the onions too and stow in fridge until you are ready to put the whole thing together and bake. I baked this in my quarter-sheet pan, but you could also bake this on a cookie sheet. Puff pastry usually has enough fat in it not to stick, but I always either spray with oil, or line with parchment (just in case.)
- 1 sheet packaged frozen puff pastry (defrosted in refrigerator overnight and kept chilled until ready to roll out)
- 1 large onion, halved then sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 -3/4 cup dry hard cider (I used Ruby from Mountain West Cider in Salt Lake City)
- 1/2 a large green apple, cored, peeled and julienned
- 3-4 slices of bacon
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan, gruyere, grana padano, extra-sharp cheddar, or a combo
- 1/2 cup sour cream (full or half-fat, but not fat free)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Grated zest of a small lemon (about a teaspoon)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Flour for rolling out dough
Prepare the toppings:
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then lay the bacon strips flat, making sure pieces do not overlap. Bake until crisp and browned, 15 to 18 minutes, or desired doneness, rotating the sheets once. Transfer strips to a paper towel to drain and cool completely. Once cool, slice the bacon into lardons (strips about 1/4″ thick).
While the bacon is cooking, heat the butter over medium-high heat until it stops foaming, then add the sliced onions, a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, and a few good grinds of pepper. Saute about 5 minutes, getting a little color on the onions but careful not to burn. Add the cider to the pan, turn heat down to a simmer, and cook over low heat until the onions are completely soft and there’s no liquid left in the pan. Cool completely.
Peel the apple, slice in half and core (my favorite tool for that is a melon-baller.) Slice half the apple into 1/4″ slices, then stack the slices and cut into 1/4″ matchsticks (in other words, julienne the apple.) Toss in a bowl with the teaspoon lemon juice and set aside.
Mix the sour cream with the 1/2 cup of the grated cheese, the lemon zest, and a few good grinds of pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon). Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed (remember, the bacon is pretty salty so go easy).
Prepare the pastry:
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Flour your work surface a little, then unfold the thawed but still cold puff pastry. Roll out the pastry to about 10″ x 14″. Cut the pastry to 9″ x 13″ rectangle. (Every pastry chef has a kitchen ruler. Yes, we are a tad anal.) Use the scraps to make two 9″ strips and two 13″ strips, or the crust of the tart.
Wet the outer edge of the pastry all the way around with water, milk, or a little beaten egg (this will act like glue), then place the strips around the edges to build up a crust. Carefully score along the inside edge of the strips with the tip of a knife (don’t cut all the way through.) This will assure the edges rise around the filling, making a really pretty tart.
Spread the sour cream mixture on the bottom of the tart, then evenly distribute the onions, bacon and apple. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges are puffed and browned and the bottom is crisp. Serve warm or room temperature, with a big glass of cider!
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