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Author Notes: Chestnuts are all about the "holidays", and butternut squash and holidays tend to fall into the winter category, so add some savory sage to the subtle sweetness of both, add a vegetarians' gateway drug, bacon, and the last days of winter may be a bit more bearable. A bit of polenta in the crust lends a nice crunchy contrast to the creaminess of the filling. —boulangere
Serves 6 or 8, depending
For the Crust
- 2 1/4 cups All-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup polenta
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces cold butter, 1" cubes
- 6 ounces ice water
For the Filling
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 12 jarred chestnuts, quartered
- 4 slices of really good thick-sliced bacon, 1/4" dice, applewood smoked if available
- 4 fresh sage leaves, whole
- 2 shallots, fine dice
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 6 ounces wedge Brie, rind removed
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Prepare crust. This recipe makes 2 crusts, so plan to freeze one for a time when you need to pull a rabbit out of a
- Make ice water by filling a vessel halfway with ice, then fill with cold water. Swish around. Pour off 6 ounces of ice water. Hold the ice!
- Sift together flour, polenta, salt, and sugar into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle. Don't worry if all the polenta doesn't pass through. Dump it in. Distribute chunks of butter over. Mix on lowest speed only until butter is averages the size of hazelnuts (or garbanzo beans). Butter pieces will grow smaller as water is added and some greater friction results.
- With mixer running on lowest speed, add water in a steady stream, mixing only until no visible dry ingredients remain in bottom of bowl. Stop mixer.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently round it up using the palms of your hands - they transfer much less heat than your fingers. Divide into equal halves. Again round up each half using your palms. Gently but quickly flatten, then round, then flatten. You are going for a disk whose edges are intact, and which is about 3/4" thick. Wrap each disk in plastic. If only using one, freeze the other. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling.
- While crust is resting, prepare butternut squash EXACTLY according to Merrill's instructions here: http://www.food52.com/recipes/9965_butternut_squash_puree. How I peel it: take off the top and bottom; cut the neck from the bulb; stand flat and carve down the sides of both to remove the peel; divide each in half and scoop the seeds from the bulb; cut each into 1/2 " cubes. When squash is done, lift out half of the pieces with tongs. Store in a ziplock bag for another use, or freeze. Purée the remainder according to Merrill's instructions, using some of the cream-chestnut purée.
- While squash is poaching, pour cream into a stainless pot. Add quartered chestnuts, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until chestnuts are very soft. Purée in the pot with an immersion blender, or transfer to a food processor.
- Meanwhile, chop bacon. Sauté bacon and whole sage leaves over medium-high heat until bacon is nearly crisp, then add diced shallots and pinch of red pepper flakes. Sauté until shallots are softened and fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
- Remove crust dough from refrigerator. Unwrap and place on a floured surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Roll out dough to where it is 1" larger than tart pan. Use tart pan as template, and cut circle of dough with a knife. Roll circle of dough back onto rolling pin, then drape into tart pan. Quickly but gently press into bottom edge of removable bottom tart pan. Return to refrigerator while you finish the filling.
- Whisk together eggs, salt and pepper. Whisk in cream-chestnut mixture, then butternut purée. Break up sage leaves with your fingers. Scatter bacon, shallots, and sage leaves over the dough. Pull Brie into small pieces with your fingers (seriously, if you try to cut it up with a knife, it's like cutting bubble gum) and scatter over surface of dough. Set tart pan on a baking sheet. Pour egg mixture into tart pan.
- Bake until nicely browned, 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Carefully lift removable bottom out of tart pan. Cut into 6 or 8 equal slices and serve immediately.
- The tart pairs beautifully with grilled asparagus splashed with some lemon, or a lovely green salad with a tart vinaigrette. Bon appétit!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Late Winter Tart (Sweet or Savory)
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