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Jean Claude's Onion Tart

Recipe from Le Bouchon, Jean Claude Poilevey
Recipe published in Great Chefs—Great Cities, Volume 1, 1996

Savory Tart Crust:
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
? cup unsalted butter at room temp, cut into cubes
about ¼ cup lukewarm water

Onion Filling:
8 slices of bacon (preferably unsmoked), diced
3 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2 medium-large size)
½ cup (2 ounces) finely diced or grated Comté or Gruyère cheese
1 egg yolk
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg

To make the crust:
Combine the flour and salt in the large bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a paddle. With the mixer running on the slowest speed, add the butter and continue to mix until mixture resembles a coarse meal and butter is completely incorporated into the flour, about 10 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and gradually add the water until the dough sticks together and no dry flour is visible. Do not overwork the dough. To make by hand, cut the butter into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter or 2 forks until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually mix in the water with a fork until the dough pulls together into a ball. This dough can also be made in the Cuisinart using the dough blade and using the pulsing action.

Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic, and let sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. The dough can be made 1 day ahead if kept refrigerated.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. On a floured board, and using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a thin 12-inch circle. Fold the dough in half, then into quarters, transfer it to a 10-inch tart pan, and unfold it. Press the dough into the sides and bottom of pan and roll the rolling pin over the top, cutting off the excess from the edges. Press a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil into the tart and fill with dried beans or pie weights.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is set and the edges are lightly browned. Carefully remove the beans and paper or foil. Return to the oven and bake the crust another 1 or 2 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Let cool slightly before filling.

To make the filling:
In a 12-inch sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon just until the fat renders. Add the onions and continue to cook, stirring or shaking the pan, until they are golden in color, about 15-20 minutes. As they begin to brown, reduce the heat and stir more frequently to make sure the onions do not burn. Drain the onions and bacon in a colander to remove excess liquid. Let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cheese and onion mixture and fold together. Fill the shell with the mixture, smoothing it evenly with a spatula. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until set and golden brown. Let cool slightly before cutting into wedges.

Serve with a small green salad and a glass of chilled Mâcon-Villages chardonnay.

Makes 1 10-inch onion tart, serves 6