The summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I studied abroad in France, in the small town of St. Brieuc, located in the Celtic region of Brittany (or Bretagne). At that point my French was largely untested -- I had only had three years of high school French, an introduction in middle school, and some lessons in elementary -- but the program would soon to change all that. The main rule dictated that as soon as the plane hit the ground in Paris, we were not allowed to speak English until we had completed the program seven weeks later...or else we got sent home. So when we finally pulled into the town parking lot with the host families waiting outside, I remember being a little scared to get off the bus. But I didn't know then the wonderful home I'd be welcomed into by Anny, Jean-Marie, Simon, and Clément Lachevre.
I'm not sure if the program just did a superb job matching students with hosts, or if I was just lucky, but despite my piecemeal French, I felt immediately comfortable -- the Lachevre's home felt so similar to mine and there was a piano to play, a yard to kick around the soccer ball with my host brothers, and a room all my own with a view of the garden and a desk where I could write letters and leaf through back issues of French Vogue that Anny had set out for me. The Europe Cup was that summer, so we watched a lot of soccer, went on excursions to nearby fishing villages, and every Friday, we ate Breton galettes.
These are not the galettes that we eat here in the U.S. Breton galettes are, in fact, a savory crêpe made from buckwheat flour and stuffed with Emmental or Gruyère cheese, jambon (ham), and a fried egg. Sometimes other ingredients are added (Clément, for instance, always requested tomatoes in his). The meal is traditionally enjoyed with a glass (or two) of hard Breton cidre, which was indeed another compulsory item on our Friday dinner table. I remember once when Jean-Marie and Anny had plans to go out on a Friday, Anny specifically taught me how to make galettes, just so Simon, Clément, and I wouldn't miss our tradition.
Back in November, I headed down to North Carolina for my friends Lora and Joe's baby shower. On the way home on Sunday, we all took a trip to Foggy Ridge Cider, a women-owned orchard and hard cider producer outside of Floyd, VA. Unlike the overly sweet cider varieties common here in the states, Foggy Ridge makes a European-style cider: complex, and more dry than sweet. Throughout our tasting I was reminded of those Friday night dinners at the Lachevres.
So on my ride home from the orchard, a new member of the Foggy Ridge Cider Club with a few bottles in tow, I decided I would make a Breton galette-inspired galette to pair with the cider I'd brought home. I've made this a few times now -- for our Southern Friendsgiving, as an appetizer for Christmas dinner, and for a Sunday brunch. The rye crust is adapted from 101 Cookbooks. —Nothing in the House // Emily Hilliard
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Nothing in the House is a folklorist and freelance writer who has a blog all about pie.
WHAT: A galette inspired by a different kind of Breton "galette."
HOW: Make a hearty crust out of rye flour and beer, then top it with mustard, caramelized onions, Gruyère, and ham. And, as if that weren’t good enough, fry an egg and lay it on top.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Anything is better with a fried egg, and this mustardy, cheesy galette is no exception. It's our pick for a holiday morning breakfast -- and who knows? We might even get crazy and add an egg for each guest. —The Editors
- Makes 1 galette
- For the crust:
1 1/2 cups
fine grain sea salt
unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
up to 2/3 cups
dark beer, cold
- For the filling:
medium or large onion, sliced
Salt and pepper, to season and sprinkle
ham steak, diced
- For the crust:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt. Using a pastry cutter or knife and fork, cut in the butter until it is the texture of cornmeal and peas.
- Make a well in the center of the butter-flour mixture and pour in the beer. Using a wooden spoon, combine until the dough forms together into a flat ball (you may need to use your hands at the end). Fold the dough over itself and wrap in plastic wrap, then let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- For the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sliced onions to a cast iron skillet and place over medium heat. Stir to coat the onions with olive oil. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 25 to 30 more minutes, until the onions are caramelized.
- While the onions are cooking, prepare the rest of the galette. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and mustard and set aside.
- After 30 minutes, remove dough from the fridge and unwrap. On a floured surface, roll it out into an elongated rectangle. Pick up the bottom of the rectangle, and fold the dough 2/3 of the way up. Now pick up the top third of the dough and fold it over the bottom. Sprinkle more flour over the dough, rotate it 90 degrees, and then repeat the same folding technique.
- Roll out the dough into a 10- or 11-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Transfer the parchment and dough to a large cookie sheet.
- On top of the crust, brush on the mustard-vinegar mixture and spread evenly. Add the cheese, ham, and caramelized onions, scattering them evenly across the crust, but leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the edges over the top of the filling and press to seal. Brush olive oil on the crust edges and sprinkle the entire tart with sea salt and pepper.
- Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the filling, leaving the crust exposed (this will keep the filling from browning too quickly or burning). Bake for 35 to 50 minutes, until the crust is browned. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack while you fry the egg.
- Heat a pat of butter in a small skillet. Fry the egg, sunny-side up, until the white is no longer translucent and the edges have crisped. Using a skillet, transfer the egg to the tart. Serve immediately and enjoy with a glass of hard, dry cider -- I recommend Foggy Ridge First Fruit!