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Author Notes: I started out calling it a 4Ps tart, but . . . . And then there's the Prosecco, which brings the count to 5, and which , so to speak, tarts the pears up a bit. At any rate, this late winter tart touches on flavors of sweet, tart, savory, and rich without being overly any of them. It's a lovely way to (hopefully!) bid adieu to winter and anticipate spring. Serve it for breakfast or brunch with fruit, or for dinner with a nice big salad. —boulangere
Serves 6 or 8, depending
For the Crust
cups all-purpose flour
ounces Butter, 1" cubes
ounces Ice water
For the Filling
Anjou pears, peeled whole, stems intact
ounces Pancetta, 1/4" cubes
cup Pine nuts, toasted
Large eggs, lightly whisked
ounces Parmesan, fine grate
ounces Whole milk (please!) ricotta
teaspoon white pepper
- 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 hat.
- 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, salt, and sugar into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle. 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 refrigerating, prepare filling. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Pour Prosecco into a stainless steel pot (wines are acidic and will react poorly with aluminum, producing an off taste and potentially gray color). Bring to a simmer. Holding pears by stems, gently immerse in Prosecco. Simmer for 15 minutes. Carefully remove pears from pot by grasping stems with tongs. Set in colander to drain and cool enough that you can easily handle them.
- While pears are poaching, cube pancetta. Spread out on baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle over pine nuts. Bake together until pancetta is crisped and pine nuts are golden brown and fragrant. Remove from oven and cool baking sheet on a cooling rack.
- 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. Increase oven heat to 375 degrees.
- Whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and ricotta. Add white pepper and whisk to blend. Will the tart police burst through your door is you use black pepper? Well, try it and see!
- Halve pears and scrape out cores with a melon baller. Lay flat on a cutting board, and cut into 1/4" slices. Depending on how obsessive-compulsive you are, either arrange in perfectly matched slices in perfect concentric circles in tart pan, which you have removed from the refrigerator. Alternatively, scatter over surface of dough. Scatter cooled pine nuts and bacon over pears. Scrape those lovely drippings into the egg mixture and whisk. Set tart pan on a baking sheet.
- Pour the egg mixture over the top of pears, bacon, and pine nuts.
- Bake until puffed and lightly golden brown on top, about 30 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.
- Bon appétit!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Late Winter Tart (Sweet or Savory)