Monday, November 19, 2007

Brussels Sprout-Chestnut Tart with My Favorite Whole Wheat Crust

Well, Thanksgiving is closing in, and I'm happy to say that our recipes are finally decided, and all that's left is the actual cooking. For our big family dinner, Mike and I are going to contribute Broccoli with Sicilian Sauce (a recipe by Lynne Rossetto Kasper in Nov.'s Saveur) because there just has to be something green and nutritious on the table, in my opinion. But, since I always advocate balance in eating, we're also going to make Dorie Greenspan's "All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake" from Baking: From My Home to Yours. The picture, as well as all the holiday flavors packed into the simple cake, won us over. I will take some pictures and report back after the holiday.

If you're still searching for Thanksgiving inspiration, consider this tart. Overflowing with shredded Brussels sprouts, chestnuts, and pancetta, loosely held together by a simple custard made with one egg and a splash of milk, this tart is substantial enough to serve as an entree and special enough to be part of your Thanksgiving spread. The flavor is so nutty and buttery, yet the inherent nutritious attributes of the Brussels sprouts aren't hidden, but enhanced. I coax out their natural sweetness by cooking them with caramelized shallots glazed with apple cider vinegar--a trick inspired by an otherwise overly complicated recipe I saw in Bon Appetit magazine.

I made this tart twice in the past week and a half. I wouldn't have done so if we didn't absolutely love eating it, but I also needed to perfect the filling. On the first attempt, I did not use the custard and therefore, nothing kept the scraggly hash of Brussels sprouts from spilling apart when the tart was cut. I needed a binder that wouldn't dull the flavors of the ingredients. I had done a tart with a milk custard before, so I thought I would try something similar here. I mixed up just enough to create a cohesive filling that wasn't too eggy and quiche-like--problem solved!

If you're not much for tart-baking, or just need a light vegetable side dish, please try the Brussels sprout-chestnut mixture on its own. Both times I made the tart, I bought more sprouts than I needed and reserved a little tupperware container of the filling (minus the milk and eggs) to munch on, and I would not hesitate to make that portion of the recipe as a side dish anytime. It's so good!

It's been ages since I've participated in a food blogging event, and I'm really happy to get back in the habit by contributing this recipe to "Waiter, there's something in my..." hosted this month over at the blog, Cook Sister. The theme is Topless Tarts--perfect. I'll post a link to the round-up sometime late next week so you can see what other bloggers came up with too.

Favorite Whole Wheat Savory Tart Shell

After some experimenting, I think this is the combination of flours that produces the tastiest, flakiest whole wheat tart shell. I absolutely love this pastry, and it’s very easy to work with. You can jazz it up by adding fresh herbs or spices to the dry ingredients.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz.), cut into small cubes and chilled
1/4 cup ice water, plus 1 to 2 tbs. as needed

In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt to combine. Add the butter and pulse until you have a sandy mixture with pea-sized chunks. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture, then pulse again until the dough just starts to come together. It will still look a little scraggly. If the dough does not easily adhere when you press a bit between your fingers, add one more tablespoon of ice water and pulse. Repeat if necessary until the dough is moist and cohesive, but not wet.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press it together, kneading once or twice, to form a thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll the chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface to a large, 12-13 inch circle. To do this evenly, roll in the direction of 12 o’clock, then 6 o’clock, then 9, then 3, then in the directions of the diagonals (1:30, etc.). The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick. Roll the dough over the pin and drape it into a nonstick (9, 10 or 11-inch) fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the sides of the pan with your knuckles and peel off the pieces that hang over the pan and use them to patch any holes. Prick the base and sides of the crust all over with a fork, place tart pan on a heavy baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. If you want to cook this crust all the way through for a different recipe, bake about 30 minutes total.

Brussels Sprout-Chestnut Tart
This is excellent reheated, as long as you do it in the oven, not the microwave. It's worth the little bit of effort to re-crisp the delicious, buttery crust. Loosely tent with foil and heat at 300 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until hot.

nonstick cooking spray
2 (1/4-inch) slices pancetta, chopped into small bits (or 6 slices bacon)
olive oil, as needed
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
4 tsp. granulated sugar
1 3/4 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1 tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup chopped chestnuts (from a jar of whole cooked chestnuts)
2 oz. grated sharp cheddar, gruyère or comté cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup loosely packed
1 egg
1/4 cup milk (lowfat or whole)

Coat a large saucepan with nonstick cooking spray and heat to medium-low. Add pancetta and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove to a paper towel to drain, leaving the fat in the pan. If you're using bacon, drain on paper towel, then crumble into bite-size pieces.

If necessary, add some olive oil to the pan so you have about 1 tbs. of fat. Add the shallots, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat if shallots started browning too quickly. Add the cider vinegar and sugar to the shallots, stirring until shallots are coated with glaze, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and stir until combined well with the shallots and slightly wilted. Turn up the heat to medium and add water to create a thin layer of liquid at the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring often, until water evaporates and Brussels sprouts are soft, but still sweet and firm to the bite (overcooking is what makes them bitter, but don’t worry, it’s not easy to do). Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chestnuts and pancetta.

Meanwhile, scatter the cheese over the base of the par-baked tart shell.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg together with the milk and season with salt and pepper. Add the Brussels sprout mixture and toss to coat. Add the Brussels sprouts mixture to the tart shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, or until set. Let tart rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

More Brussels sprouts recipes from other bloggers:

Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts on Orangette
Brussels Sprouts Dijon on Seriously Good
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic, Parmesan and Pine Nuts on Kalyn's Kitchen
Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts on 101 Cookbooks
Roasted Brussels Sprouts (with shallots) on Use Real Butter
And (even though it's not really a side dish) Brussels Sprouts with Orecchiette on An Endless Banquet, because it looks awfully tasty!


Christine said...

This looks wonderful. I'm saving the recipe to try this week with freshly roasted chestnuts.

Anna said...

I have never tasted chestnuts. I think I'm afraid I won't like them and if I don't like them, it will ruin any good feelings I get from the whoe "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" idea.

Margaret said...

Your tart has a very interesting combination of flavours and I can see that they would work well together. Good choice making a wholewheat pastry base with this.

sagari said...

yummy and healthy tart looks delecious

Anh said...

So beautifully done! I love your whole wheat pastry, although I can't get the wholewheat pastry flour here at all. Will love to try it out :)

Anonymous said...

I fully support your idea of balanced eating! Cake is always a must. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Kristen said...

This looks really good. At the very least, I am going to give that crust recipe a try!

Mary said...

I'm so glad I blog-hopped my way here! I've been looking for a good savory tart recipe and I've never used chestnuts. Can't wait to try it!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Very interesting! We love Brussels sprouts, but I would have never thought to put them in a tart. It sounds delicious.

Sarah Michelle said...

Food is my weakness. I love to try different ways to different recipes.I found your recipe very good and easy. And I'm going to try it, I hope it will be so easy to cook too, is watching as your page.
Regards n thanks to share such a great recipe with us.

CS said...

Oh, that looks delicious