Pies and things.
Holiday time… A time to gather with family, and a time to give thanks… A time for sharing, and caring, and let’s be real, for eating and eating and eating. And even though my parents have been on the most stringent diet I have ever heard of (g-d bless them, because they are rocking it!), I thought I’d use my time at home to lavish them with my cooking skillz, while taking advantage of their non-NYC-sized kitchen. So, being that I was still just so smitten about my super successful pie dough from Smitten Kitchen, I felt I was ready to give them a real reason to blow off that diet for a day. I would make them the best Pecan Pie ever - or so, that was the plan.
Much to my surprise, there was no recipe for such a pie in The Joy of Cooking, so I took to the internet and went right to good ol’ Martha Stewart. Now, I am not an organic veggie, no preservatives eating saint all the time, but I’d like to think that more often than not, I strive to make good food choices. Needless to say, when I saw CORN SYRUP in the list of ingredients, I was slightly horrified. So I continued my search only to find blasted corn syrup in each and every recipe. I felt a little defeated, but then I read that corn syrup was absolutely necessary for pecan pie, and before I thought to explicitly seek out substitutions, I caved. (My Google-ing abilities are pretty weak)
In any case, I went back to Ms. Stewart’s version, and continued on. All in all, this was a completely simple recipe, in terms of preparation. Where the real science comes into play, is deciding when it’s done.
“Bake until filling jiggles slightly in the center when gently shaken, 50 to 60 minutes.”
All I have to say is that, slightly is in the eye of the beholder. I mean, really. After 55 minutes, this pie was gorgeous. Perfect golden crust, a lovely golden hue in the middle…it looked great. So I shook it. And it jiggled an amount I thought was slightly. I even asked my mom, and she agreed! But, I put it in for 10 more minutes and checked again. This time I shook it harder. And really, truly, it jiggled only slightly. So I took it out, let it cool, and waited for my coming moment of glory after the big meal…
Luckily my family buys life in bulk year round, so onions were plentiful. I even learned a new trick while fighting through the tears of slicing. If you remove the skins and place halved onions into an ice water bath, it cuts down on the fumes that make us cry! (Was I ever thankful for that) 6 onions and still a few tears later, I tossed my thinly sliced onions with the half stick of butter I had heating up. I did not have fresh thyme, so I added a generous amount of its dried equivalent instead. Immediately fragrant, I knew this was going to be good. After about 30 minutes, my onions were a beautiful caramel color and set aside to cool.
Assembly is pretty straightforward after that, with a bit of freedom for creativity in crust folding. 50 minutes in the oven, and voila! I had made this the night before and reheated for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. A hit of an appetizer, if I do say so myself.
And now back to the pie…
With dinner over, and family drunk on food and wine, I was ready for dessert. Unveiling my masterpiece, knife in hand, I dove in… to find goo. The middle oozing out, I continued to cut with despair.
Bless the hearts of my crazy family, they all assured me it was delicious. But I was skeptical. I will say that it did TASTE just fine, flavor-wise, but texture and consistency were off.
Whelp. You win some, you lose some. I’ll take this as a loss, but with a new fire sparked and a resolve to try again at Christmas.
Caramelized Onion Galette
1 disk of pie dough, large enough for a 9” pie (defrosted, but still cool)
flour for dusting
4 tablespoons butter
6 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
salt to taste
1 egg beaten
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Heat butter in heavy-bottomed pot, add onions and thyme sprigs, then sauté over medium heat until onions are caramelized, about 20 to 30 minutes. Salt to taste. Remove from heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, on a well-floured surface, roll out chilled pie dough into a 12 to 14-inch circle (about ⅛ inch thick). Don’t worry if your shape is more blobby than circular––any irregularities just add to the homemade charm!
Transfer rolled-out dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let it firm up in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Spread the cooled onions over the center, picking out the thyme sprigs. Leave a good inch or two around the edge so you have ample dough to fold up around the onions.
Fold up the edges, making sure there are no holes. Willy-nilly works or you can use a pinch and fold method like we did here.
Once your tart is all wrapped up, coat the folded edges with beaten egg using a pastry brush––or your fingers!
Bake at 375 °F for 40 to 50 minutes––or until the crust is golden brown on the bottom. Let cool slightly, garnish with a pinch of fresh thyme and serve warm.