The inspiration for this recipe comes from Meat Cheese Bread in Portland, Oregon, where I fell hard for their sandwich of grilled green beans, bacon relish, soft-boiled egg, aioli, and parmesan. I would like to eat it all day, every day, please and thank you.
Unable to get that dreamy bacon relish out of my mind, I figured I would just have to make my own, and the BLT tartlet followed closely after that.
Use quality, smoky bacon, and if you have time to whip up your own aioli, definitely go that route. Find the sweetest, littlest cherry tomaotes you can get; if you can find them in a combination of colors, even better. There's a good amount of menial labor that goes in to assembling the tartlets (especially when you find yourself eating every third one), but they're sure worth the effort. That said, you probably want to go ahead and double the recipe because these guys don't last long on an hors d'oeuvres table.
You might have a little extra relish, tomatoes, and/or arugula left over. Toss them with pasta. Thank me later. —vvvanessa
24 tartlets (or more)
pie dough of choice (enough for a single pie crust)
whole, small cherry tomatoes (like Sweet 100s); halve them if they are larger
For this recipe, you will need to use mini-muffin tins. The wells should be about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (measuring across the top).
First, make the tartlet shells. Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Roll out the dough so it is quite thin (less than 1/4-inch thickness). Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out circles of the pie dough that are slightly larger than the diameter of the wells of the muffin tin. Carefully press each circle of dough into the sides and bottoms of each well to form a little cup of dough. The dough will shrink as it bakes, so err on the side of extra dough popping up over the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the dough is set and begins to brown slightly. Remove the tartlet shells from the oven and allow them to cool. Leave the oven on for the tomatoes.
On a small, rimmed baking sheet, combine the tomatoes, thyme,olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt (about 1/2 teaspoon). Roast the tomatoes, occasionally stirring and turning the pan, until they are wrinkled and collapsed and the juices have begun to thicken, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Discard the thyme stems.
While the tomatoes are roasting, make the bacon relish. Mince the bacon into pieces not larger than 1/4-inch square. In a saucepan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat, stirring often. When the bacon begins to give off a good amount of liquid, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook and stir. The bacon will start foaming as it browns; keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn. When the bacon darkens in color and is just shy of crispy, about 7 to 10- minutes, remove the pan from the heat.
Carefully remove the bacon with a slotted spoon into a small dish. Pour off all but 2 teaspoons of bacon fat (and the tiny bacon bits at the bottom of the pan) and return the pan to the heat.
Add in the onion and saute until the onion is soft and begins to caramelize. Add the bacon back in along with the vinegar and 3 teaspoons of the chicken stock and several generous grinds of black pepper. Cook until the bacon relish begins to simmer. Lower the heat and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes to allow the bacon to soften slightly. You might need to add in more chicken stock, which should be done a tablespoon at a time. The relish should appear moist but not soupy, the onions and bacon appearing to be somewhat melded together. Taste and adjust seasoning. Allow the relish to cool.
To assemble the tartlets, take a pastry shell and line it with a leaf of arugula, which will drape over the sides. Place a small dollop of aioli or mayonnaise in the shell, then a tomato on one side of the shell and a small mound of bacon relish on the other. I have found narrow-tipped chopsticks to be the most helpful for this task.
The individual components can be made a day in advance (keep the tomatoes and relish in the refrigerator and the tart shells in an air-tight container at room temperature) but the tartlets should be assembled as close to go-time as possible.