When I first tasted an apple Tarte Tatin at the Auberge du Chasseur near Lausanne Switzerland I fell in love and proceeded to learn to make this simple yet sublime caramelized apple dessert. Over the years I substituted the apple for pears, peaches and even pineapple. It never occurred to me that substituting an onion would turn this delish dessert into a savory starter or main course!
I first came across this onion tarte tatin recipe on Serious Eats and had to try it for myself. With slight adjustments it has become my go-to dish for a light dinner with a salad and also the next day as a delish lunchtime nibble.
I used a mixture of red and yellow onions for optics rather than taste. I also prefer the beef stock but you can easily substitute chicken. And I once forgot to add the cheese before putting the pastry on top of the cooked onions so I sprinkled it on top after unmolding it and chucked it under the broiler/grill to melt. It was yummy! You can use store-bought puff pastry or here is an easy peasy short crust recipe.
And now that it can also be a savory dish I am thinking of other vegetables to make into a tart tatin…leeks come to mind, and perhaps plum tomatoes. More to come my foodie friends!
Savory Onion Tarte Tatin
A savory version of the caramelized apple dessert using onions, beef stock, nam pla sauce and cider vinegar to raise the flavor portfolio.
- 1 short crust pastry (see recipe link in notes) (or store bought puff or short pastry)
- 3 medium onions (mix of red and yellow)
- 1 tbsp sherry
- 3/4 cup beef stock
- 1/4 tsp Nam Pla sauce (Thai fish sauce)
- 1/4 tsp cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
- 4 tbsp butter (softened)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 ounces Gruyere cheese (grated)
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Pre-heat oven to 400F/240C
Roll the pastry into a 10-inch round. Fold 1/2" depth of dough around the circumference over and pinch to create a 9-inch round with a raised rim. Cut a 1/2" triangle in the center and place in the freezer while making the rest of the tart.
Halve the onions from root to stem; discard skin and remove scraggly end while keeping the light colored part intact that holds it together. Cut two of the onions into 4 wedges, then cut each wedge in half. Set aside.
Slice the remaining onion in thin slices. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until foaming. Add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium/low and continue cooking until the onions are caramelized but not burnt, about 15 minutes.
Add sherry and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom and sides. Add stock and bring to a simmer; cook until liquid has thickened and reduced to just coat the onions, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the Nam Pla sauce, vinegar and thyme. Remove from heat and set aside.
Smear the remaining butter over the bottom of a tarte tatin pan or cast iron skillet, sprinkled sugar in an even layer over butter and season with salt and pepper. Arrange onion wedges in a tight circular pattern around the pan with the root ends pointed in toward the center, making sure the wedges are in even contact with the pan. Tuck remaining onion wedges into the center of the pan.
Place over high heat and cook until the onions have softened slightly and butter and sugar has caramelized, 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and spoon the reserved caramelized onion slices into the spaces between the onion wedges and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and sprinkle Gruyere cheese evenly over the onions.
Remove the pastry from the freezer and spread mustard on the inside of the pastry shell. Carefully place the pastry round over the onions mustard side down.
Place in the pre-heated oven until the pastry is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes then place a large plate over the top of the tart pan and flip it over and carefully remove the tart pan. Scrape any onion bits that have stuck to the pan onto the tart. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe for short crust pastry.