This was inspired by last month’s Charcutepalooza challenge, in which Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy encouraged folks to make their own bacon and pancetta. The fennel and onions are cooked separately, as they may have different cooking times, and so the fennel can be seasoned independently from the onions (the fennel is also nice prepared on its own, and served as a side dish). I made smaller free-form tarts, but if you like, the crust can easily be pressed into a tart pan with a removable bottom.
Makes a 10” tart or two smaller ones
Make the crust:
1 1/3 c all purpose flour
2/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c cold butter, cut in small pieces
1/4 c vegetable oil or lard
1/4 - 1/2 c ice water
1/4 - 1/2 c ice water
Mix together flours.
Cut in butter and oil until it resembles coarse crumbs
Add water. Give it a stir or two with a fork, and then bring it together with your hands, being careful not to mix it too vigorously.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes before rolling out. While it is chilling, prepare the filling.
Prepare the Onions, Fennel, and Bacon
2-4 T olive oil (more if needed)
4-6 slices bacon or pancetta, chopped into 1/4” - ½” pieces, to make ½ c
1 fennel bulb, stem and tough outer layer removed, cut lengthwise and then crosswise into ¼ - ½” strips. Reserve a handful of the green fronds.
4 medium-large onions
1 small clove garlic, minced
¼ c dry vermouth
1/2 T fresh rosemary, torn or chopped roughly, or 1/2 tsp dried
1 T fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried
½ c cheese of your choice such as cheddar, gruyere, swiss, or guda, grated. The different cheeses give it different character, use whatever you like best or happen to have around.
Fennel: In a frying pan cook 3 T bacon until it begins to brown. Add sliced fennel and about 2 T olive oil, toss to coat the fennel and add ¼ c water. Cover and cook on a medium low heat until fennel is softened, but still has a bit of crunch, about 20 or 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook off any liquid, letting the fennel brown up. Add vermouth and cook for another minute or so. Toss in about 2 T torn fennel fronds.
Onion: In a frying pan cook the remaining bacon or pancetta until it is lightly browned around the edges. Remove from pan and drain, leaving grease in pan. Add sliced onions and two tablespoons of oil and toss to coat the onions (add more if there isn’t much grease, less if there is). Cook on a very low heat, and after about 5 minutes add the minced garlic, and salt and pepper lightly. Cover tightly and continue cooking until soft, for another 10 or 20 minutes. Try not to brown them too much. Remove lid and cook off any extra liquid.
Preheat oven to 375˚
Roll crust into a circle and press gently into tart pan, or place onto baking sheet.
Gently toss together fennel, onions, and bacon. Mound on tart crust. Top with grated cheese, rosemary and thyme.
If making a free form tart, fold over the crust along the edge.
Chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Bake for about 20 or 30 minutes, until crust is lightly browned and cheese is melted.
Let rest for a few minutes and serve warm or cold.