I’ve been making this dish for a long time. It’s a bit involved but it remains one of the most impressive potato dishes I know. This special occasion treat features the classic trio of potatoes, bacon and cheddar. It will take you a while to make, but the results are more than worth it. It’s the sort of thing that looks complicated until you try it and quickly realize how simple it is to master.
Yield: Makes 8 servings
2 pounds (1 kg) of room-temperature bacon
Lots of freshly ground pepper
4 cups (1L) of shredded aged cheddar
5 or 6 large baking potatoes (unpeeled)
A sprinkle or two of sea salt and freshly grated pepper
1 onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Preheat your oven to 350 °F (180 °C).
Carefully arrange the bacon in a radial pattern from the center of the bottom of a 10- or 12-inch (25 or 30 cm) round non-stick baking pan; arrange the bacon so that it fits along the bottom of the pan, continuing up and over the sides. Let the ends hang over. The slices should overlap slightly around the sides of the pan. To reduce the thickness of the bacon in the center, stagger every other piece, starting it 2 inches (5 cm) from the center and extending it further than the adjacent slices.
With the palm of your hand, ï¬‚atten the center area, leaving no gaps in the bacon. Season the bacon with lots of pepper and then sprinkle on several spoonfuls of the shredded cheddar.
Slice the potatoes as thinly and uniformly as you can, about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Arrange a circular pattern of overlapping slices around the inside bottom edge of the pan. Continue arranging overlapping layers of the potatoes until the bottom is evenly covered. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.
Mix together the onion and garlic and sprinkle some of the mixture onto the potatoes. Continue with a layer of the shredded cheese. Cover with another layer of the potato, pressing it down ï¬rmly before continuing with alternate layers of the potatoes, onion mixture and cheese, insetting each a bit from the edge of the pan until the top is 1 inch (2.5 cm) or so higher than the pan’s rim. Fold the overhanging bacon neatly up and over the top of the potatoes.
Trim a small piece of parchment paper and place it in between an ovenproof lid and the bacon. This will prevent the bacons ends from pulling back and shrinking during cooking.
Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You’ll know it’s done when a small, thin bladed knife inserts easily.
Pour off as much of the fat around the edges as possible. Let the tart stand for 15 minutes and then invert it onto a cutting surface. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.
Try mixing a few spoonfuls of your favourite fresh herb into the onion mixture. Thyme, rosemary and tarragon all work well.
This is one of my all-time favourite comfort foods. Just like high-starch rice, barley may be simmered and stirred into a smooth, creamy risotto, absorbing the flavour of the bacon and rich chicken broth as it slowly cooks. The results are richly flavoured and deeply satisfying.