Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Onion Tarte Tatin

If you've never smelt the sweet aroma of caramelizing onions with star anise and thyme, you're in for a treat. It's magical. And as with all tarte tatins, this is a very simple dish to prepare and it will impress the pants off your guests. I happened to make this for Super Bowl Sunday and it was perfect. Few ingredients, easy to prepare, classier than your standard Super Bowl fare, while still classifying as a finger food for the guys.

Onion Tarte Tatin (adapted from Martha Stewart's Vidalia Onion Tarte Tatin)
Makes one 9-inch tarte

9 small vidalia onions or 2 larger sweet onions
1 large leek
6 thyme sprigs (1 Tbsp picked)
1 star anise pod, grind using mortar and pestle
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp sugar
1 cup water
Flaky tart dough, ideally made the day before and chilled in the refrigerator

It is best to use small vidalia onions because you can simply cut them in half and they'll stay together much better. I didn't have access to them, so I used some larger sweet onions and sliced them thick. So depending on which type of onion you're using, either cut them in half crosswise, or cut them in thick slices crosswise. Place your pan over medium heat and when hot, add butter and the sugar. Fit onions snugly into pan, cut side down. Scatter the thyme and ground star anise over onions.

Cut leeks and layer them on top of the onions near center of the pan; add salt and pepper to taste. Now turn the heat down slightly and let the onions cook very gently for about 10 minutes. Shake pan gently from time to time to make sure the onions aren't sticking but don't stir! And don't let anyone else come by and stir.... Steve. You want the onions intact when you flip.

Pour water over onions; bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat for 25 minutes, or until onions are very tender. While onions and leeks are cooking, preheat oven to 375 and roll out your flaky tart dough to a 9-inch circle. Cut a few vents in the pastry round so that it doesn't puff up in the oven. Back to the onions- remove lid, raise heat, and cook until liquid is almost completely reduced. Then remove pan from heat and place pastry round on top. Trim the dough around pan and tuck it in around the onion-leek mixture. Transfer pan to preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly brown. Once done, cover the tarte with a serving dish (larger in diameter than the pan) and flip it upside down. Garnish with fresh thyme.


  1. Woah! You cook it with the pastry on top? This looks AMAZING!!!!! I'm going to try it with my massive farmers market to get me some butta!

    1. Yup! It's so easy and fun to make. Make sure to give the pan a few swirls while the onions are cooking so they don't stick. And cutting vents in the pastry is also important so that a huge bubble doesn't form while baking. Have fun!