From our Canadian famed Chef, Michael Smith
This has been a family favourite for about 12 years. I read about it once years ago, before he was the famous fellow he is, and have been making it since. It is definitely substantial and captures some key aspects of Canadian cuisine: cheddar, bacon, potatoes, and onion. You can’t get more down home than that. Michael has elevated this dish through his “easy-to-make” and “jaw-dropping” presentation. The addition of crème fraîche and with a generous sprinkling of sliced green onions takes the eating experience to yet another level.
It really isn’t as daunting to make as it looks. It took me about 20 minutes, but I did use my Thermomix to shred the cheese.
Baking this tart until the bacon is crisp and most of the fat is expelled does take some attention. The pan is lined with parchment. The tart is covered with parchment, then a lid a little smaller than the pan, or an oven proof plate that just fits inside of the perimeter is placed over the parchment covered tart. A heavy weight is placed on that to put pressure on the tart, and the entire apparatus is loaded into the oven. I used a big, heavy brick. I did not use the All Clad pan to get the beautifully crusty tart. An iron frying pan or any heavy rustic pan will work, but the lid must not fit the pan (as in the photo above).
Below is the tart inverted onto a plate sitting on our snowy bench, outside to cool a moment or two before slicing and serving.
Bacon Potato Cheddar Tart
Serving: Makes 8 servings
- 2 pounds room temperature bacon, thickly sliced (I used 3 pounds of double smoked local bacon)
- lots of freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups shredded aged cheddar (I didn’t use this much; I used one pound, shredded)
- 5 or 6 large baking potatoes, thinly sliced and unpeeled (I used 8 to 9, but there was waste due to ends)
- salt to taste, per layer (I used a sprinkle as there is a lot in the cheese and in the bacon; however, potatoes need a lot of salt, so I did use some)
- 1 onion, minced (I sliced mine thinly, and used a whole large onion)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C)
- Line your baking frying pan with parchment paper
- 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; start four slices in each quadrant letting some ends hang over and some not reaching the top of the side of the pan
- The slices must overlap 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: this will also create a staggered top (My first four slices didn’t even reach the top of the edge of the pan, so I needed to introduce 4 more slices when I was folding the bacon over the potatoes at the end)
- With the palm of your hand, flatten the centre area, leaving no gaps in the bacon; the bottom will become the top of the pie, so how this looks is important
- Season the bacon with lots of pepper and then start with a layer of thin, overlapping potato slices once the entire bottom and sides of the pan is covered with bacon
- Slice the potatoes as thinly and uniformly as you can, about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick and 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 each layer of potatoes with salt and pepper
- Sprinkle some of the onion slices onto the potatoes (The photos above demonstrate how I did this); continue with a layer of the shredded cheese
- Cover with another layer of the potato, pressing down firmly before continuing with alternate layers of potato, onion and cheese
- Fold the overhanging bacon neatly up and over the top of the potatoes, adding additional slices inside, first, as needed, to ensure the entire surface is completely covered with bacon slices similar to the bottom
- Trim a small piece of parchment paper and place it in between an ovenproof lid or plate and the bacon; this will prevent the bacon ends from pulling back and shrinking during cooking (I actually placed a brick on top of the lid to ensure there was enough pressure on the bacon; I have had it shrink before)
- Place the pan on a covered baking sheet to avoid spillage in the oven and bake for at least 4 to 5 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; increase the heat to 450°F for the last hour, draining fat as necessary; watch carefully to ensure the crust doesn’t get too dark
- Let the tart stand for 15 minutes, then invert onto a cutting surface or serving plate
- Slice into wedges and serve immediately with a dollop of thick crème fraîche and a smattering of thinly sliced green onions
- Leftovers are excellent refrigerated and reheated it in a microwave