I call this "Sausage-Happy" because I flavor both the crust and the custard with the herbs and spices I like most in sausages - and of course, I use sausage as well. Chestnut flour in the crust adds a gentle, nutty sweetness. Use this as a template for variations using natural bacon, slivers of apple and cheddar, pear and gruyere, or mushrooms or paper-thin slices of fennel and onions for a vegetarian tart. I hope you like it. ;o) —AntoniaJames
one 9" tart
Chestnut and Wheat Germ Crust
96 grams / 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
20 grams / 1/3 cup unsweetened toasted wheat germ
72 grams / 3/4 cup chestnut flour
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram or a healthy pinch of dried
1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves, or a healthy pinch of dried
112 grams / 4 ounces / ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter cut into small cubes
24 grams (2 tablespoons / 30 ml) olive oil
30 ml / 2 tablespoons / 15 grams cold whole milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground allspice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
The Filling Ingredients
118 grams / 1/2 pound bulk sausage (pork, turkey or a combination)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
121 grams / 120 ml / 1/2 cup half-and-half
58 grams / 60 ml / 1/4 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage or a good pinch of dried + more to taste, if needed
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme, if necessary
1 tablespoon / 15 ml good prepared mustard (I use a stoneground mustard with horseradish)
70 grams / 2 ½ ounces / ¾ cup Gruyere or similar cheese, coarsely grated (or more, to taste)
1 Bosc or Anjou pear (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Scant 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice
Scant 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
In This Recipe
MAKE THE CRUST: If using dried herbs, crush them with the spices using a mortar and pestle.
Place all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Drizzle the oil and milk over it. Pulse until all the dry ingredients are absorbed and the dough has a fairly uniform consistency.
Press the dough into a 9” tart ring with a removable bottom. I use the heel of my hand, right at the base of my thumb, to press the dough into the edge of the ring and then to level the base.
Chill for at least 20 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
MAKE THE FILLING: Saute the sausage, broken into smallish bits, and the onion together in a heavy skillet until the sausage is cooked and the onion is translucent.
Taste a little piece of the cooked sausage. Is it salty? Does it have enough herbs in it? How about the pepper in it? Take note, as you will be seasoning and adding herbs, or not, depending on your answers to these questions.
Beat the eggs, half-and-half and cream together. If using dried herbs in the custard, crush them with the spices using a mortar and pestle. This releases the fragrance of the herbs much more effectively than the more commonly suggested "crush them between your hands" method.
TO BLIND BAKE THE CRUST: Cut a piece of parchment that’s large enough to allow for considerable overlap around the edges of the tart. Crumple it up tightly and then un-crumple and flatten it. Put the rumpled paper in the tart crust; fill it with dried beans or whatever weights you typically use for blind baking. Roll the edges of the parchment down over the edge. This will provide some protection from over-browning. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the paper and weights; prick the crust all over and return to the oven for another 2 minutes.
ASSEMBLE THE TART: As soon as you remove the crust from the oven, brush the bottom with the mustard and put the cheese on it. (This will melt the cheese, forming a protective barrier between the custard and the crust.)
Quarter, core and cut into thin slices the pear, if using. If its peel is tough or thick, peel it as well. Layer the slices over the cheese.
Sprinkle on the herbs and spices, and more salt and pepper, if necessary. Pour over the custard.
Bake for 30-35 minutes; check it after 20 minutes and frame the outer crust with foil or put on a silicone ring if the edge starts to brown too quickly. I hope you like this.
Tips for advance prep: The crust can be made and blind baked the night before. You can also saute the sausage and onions and chop the herbs, and separately mix up the custard ingredients, well in advance.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)