Saturday, August 23, 2014

Savory Caramelized Onion Galette

There are certain things that are ill-advised activities to do during the summer. Things like going for a run at noon in an unshaded area, planning a vacation to Phoenix (oops?), and turning on the oven to spend an afternoon making a caramelized onion galette.

Normal people don't endeavor such absurdities. They go to the pool. An air-conditioned theater to watch other people cook food. Or give up hope of any functionality at all and eat a quart of ice cream. (I very much like these people.)

As much as I appreciate these very reasonable activities, at some juncture my logical side always surrenders to my compulsive side, and I decide that rather than scoop my way to sweet relief via a carton of Madagascar Vanilla, I have to make some seasonally inappropriate dish in my air-conditionless kitchen instead.

This insanity would be far more excusable if I were using some precious summer ingredient that is only available for a few weeks of time rather than onions, which are pretty much available always - even during the final half hour of a farmer's market when it's been scavenged down to one hard lemon and a wilted bunch of kale. As stray bags float down the center of the deserted aisle like tumbleweeds, there will still be a heap of onions piled up, regardless of the month. The same could not be said of heirloom tomatoes, corn or peaches.

If this were a galette involving any of those things, it could all be forgiven. I would be completely exonerated for cranking up the oven and dusting down my counter tops, my hair tied up in a sticky, frenzied mess with sweat beading at my temples.

Naturally, I had considered an alternative filling for this savory tart. I briefly marinated over the possibility of oven-roasted tomatoes and paper-thin zucchini slivers only to quickly dismiss them in favor of what I actually wanted. A sticky, frenzied mess of caramelized onions clinging to an indecently buttery crust that is the opposite of what one should be eating during "bikini season."

As for those far more appropriate heirloom tomatoes?  They found their place on the side, served up in thick colorful slabs without considerable embellishment. Exactly as and where they should be.

Savory Caramelized Onion Galette
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 brown or yellow onions, sliced into thin rings
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 disk of galette dough (recipe below)

Galette Dough
From White on Rice Couple
Makes 2 disks

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (very cold) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 egg
1/4 cup (very cold) water
Heavy cream or melted butter for brushing the crush

For the onions:
Heat large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the onions and push around with a spoon to make sure all the rings are separated and lightly coated with oil. Cook, stirring occasionally to ensure they aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan, for 10 minutes. Season with salt and the sugar, and continue cooking, stirring every now and again to ensure even browning. Keep cooking at least 30 minutes or so, or until deeply caramelized. Turn off the heat, add the balsamic vinegar to de-glaze the pan, scraping up any bits that have adhered to the base of the pan. Set aside to cool.

For the dough:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Set in the fridge to keep cold. Add the butter cubes to the flour/salt mixture and use your hands to work the butter into the flour, until the butter pieces are no larger than a pea. Add the egg/water mixture and use your hands to gently knead the batter together into a dough. Divide into two flat disks and wrap with saran wrap or other non-stick wrap. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

For the galette assembly:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly dust flour over a flat surface (whether a clean countertop or cutting board). Use a rolling pin to roll one of the galettes into a 10-inch diameter circle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread onion mixture evenly in the center, leaving an inch or so of dough around the edges uncovered. Fold edges over the filling. Glaze the crust with heavy cream or melted butter, then bake approximately 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool 5 minutes before slicing, then serve in wedges with seasoned heirloom tomatoes on the side. (You can also try topping the galette with dollops of goat cheese - I highly recommend this trying.)