Tarte Flambée (Flammekueche)

From what I’ve read this recipe originated in the northeastern part of France known as Alsace. However, since this region has for centuries been volleyed back and forth between Germany and France the results are that language and food, not to mention architecture, have traces of both countries. This recipe is no exception.

At first glance Tarte Flambée if looking strictly at the ingredients of; crème fraiche (or fromage blanc), onions and lardon (bacon) seems quintessential French. But, as of yet I haven’t had any experience in other parts of France where these ingredients are used in this way. Plus, with this dish having multiple names, from the French tarte flambeé to the German flammekueche, can we at least deduce that it is from some French/German border region?

Regardless of where this recipe originated, these few ingredients are transformed into a truly amazing appetizer or first course! And, it’s simple to make, too.

For the dough:
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
About ½ cup (120 ml) water

For the filling:
6 tablespoons very thinly sliced yellow onions
2 ½ oz or 75 grams thick cut uncooked bacon
1 teaspoon or so unsalted butter (optional)
¼ cup (60 ml) crème fraîche, fromage blanc or sour cream
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons freshly grated cheese, such as comté or Gruyère cheese
Chives, snipped (optional)

First, make the dough. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and oil. Stir in the water slowly, using a folk or dough whisk, until it comes together. (The exact amount of water needed will vary depending on the flour used, how it’s measured, the humidity, etc. so adjust accordingly.)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly to form a ball.  (If preparing the dough in advance, place the ball on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)

Preheat your oven to 250°C (480 F).

Cut the onions into thin strips and set aside. Cut the bacon into ¼-inch slices. Quickly fry the bacon; then with a slotted spoon remove to a plate lined with paper-toweling.

Reduce the heat to low and depending on the amount of bacon fat left in the pan, melt some butter. Add the onions and sauté on low heat for about 5 minutes or until just translucent. With the slotted spoon remove the onions to the plate alongside the bacon.

Divide the dough in half. On a floured kitchen counter, roll-out the dough into a circle or rectangle of about ¼” thick. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Spread the crème fraîche around the dough. Sprinkle half of the remaining ingredients (except the chives).

Let cook in the oven for about 10 minutes (the edges must be nice and brown). Remove from oven and sprinkle with chives.  Repeat with the second piece of dough.

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