Food Country with Chef Michael Smith Episode 4: Potato Bacon Cheddar Tart
Potato Bacon Cheddar Tart
This special occasion treat features a classic trio of flavours: potatoes, bacon and cheddar. It’s my favourite way to show off the earthy potatoes that PEI is so famous is for. It’s not hard to make but it does take some time to assemble and will need several hours in the oven. The spectacular results are more than worth the wait!
* Two pounds or so of room temperature bacon
* One minced onion
* Four minced garlic cloves
* 1 tablespoon of minced fresh thyme
* Four cups of grated medium aged cheddar
* Five or six large unpeeled baking potatoes
* Salt and pepper to taste
* Parchment paper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a ten-inch, non-stick sauté pan with a small round of parchment paper. Carefully arrange the bacon in a radial pattern from the center of the bottom of the pan to the lower edge of the rim and continuing up and over 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 center stagger every other piece starting it two inches from the center and extending it further than the adjacent slices. With the palm of your hand, flatten the center area, leaving no gaps in the bacon. Season the bacon with pepper then sprinkle on several tablespoons of the grated cheddar.
Slice the potatoes as thinly and uniformly as you can, about a quarter inch 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 onions and garlic and sprinkle some of the mixture onto the potatoes. Continue with a layer of the grated cheese. Cover with another layer of the potato pressing it down firmly before continuing with alternate layers of the potatoes, onion mixture and cheese until the pan is full. Continue with several more layers insetting each a bit from the edge of the pan until the top is an inch 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 lids weight will prevent the bacons ends from pulling back and shrinking during cooking.
Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for at least two and a half to three 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 fifteen minutes then carefully cover with a plate and flip over. Slide onto a cutting surface. Slice into wedges and serve immediately. You may refrigerate any leftovers and reheat them later it in a microwave.
Feel free to try Try mixing a few tablespoons of your favourite herb into the onion mixture. Thyme, rosemary and tarragon all work well.
Hints Medium aged cheddar works best because it wont ‘break’ like an older cheese and release lots of oil. It also has more flavour than a younger cheddar. Kitchen specialty stores carry a French slicing tool known as a mandolin. It’s a fancy chef tool but easily slices the potatoes into even rounds. Its not absolutely necessary though, a sharp knife works well too!
Chef Michael Smith