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 room temperature bacon
lots freshly ground pepper
4 cups shredded aged cheddar
5 or 6 large baking potatoes (unpeeled)
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly grated pepper
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Carefully arrange the bacon in a radial pattern from the centre of the bottom of a 10- or 12-inch (25 or 30 cm) round non-stick baking pan to the lower edge of the rim and continuing up and over the sides of it. 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 centre, stagger every other piece, starting it 2 inches (5 cm) from the centre and extending it further than the adjacent slices.
With the palm of your hand, flatten the centre 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 firmly 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 an 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.
You may refrigerate any leftovers and reheat them later it in a microwave.
Try mixing a few spoonfuls of your favourite fresh herb into the onion mixture. Thyme, rosemary and tarragon all work well.
The thighs of a chicken are my favourite cut. They’re inexpensive and have way more flavour than the bland breast. I usually braise them because it’s easy and they go with just about anything. I love the way they soak up the earthy flavours of the mushrooms in this dish.