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Jan 5, 2010 10:42 AM

Tarte à l'oignon: to pork or not to pork?

So, I'm planning to do a tarte à l'oignon (actually tartelettes) for an upcoming dinner, and I'm confused about the classic recipe. I am 85% certain that every rendition I've had in or around Alsace contained bacon. But none of my books seems to have a recipe, except for Larousse -- and my copy makes no mention of pork in the dish at all.

So how do you make it? I can imagine it being delicious without the bacon, but that's always seemed to me one of the four essential components of the dish. Could Larousse be wrong about those crazy Alsatians, or am I simply mis-remembering it? Obviously, I haven't made my own before.

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  1. I'm no expert, but I've loved this dish in Paris and New York (where I live) and have never had it with bacon. But there are several recipes out there (including this one: that do include it. So it appears to be a matter of preference.

    1 Reply
    1. re: herring

      Also, I've made this just once, from a Cook's Illustrated recipe, which I can't seem to find online. No bacon in that recipe, that I recall, though it's possible I just omitted it.

    2. Yes, French Onion Tart often has bacon. Here is a paraphrased recipe for the filling in Cooks Illustrated's Jan/Feb 2007 version, which uses a 9" diameter tart shell.

      4 slices bacon, halved lengthwise then slices crosswise in quarter-inch pieces.
      1.5 lbs (3 med) peeled yellow or white onions, halved pole-wise, then cut crosswise into quater-inch slices (6 cups)
      3/4 tsp table salt
      1 sprig fresh thyme (they use this instead of nutmeg)
      2 large eggs
      1/2 cup half&half
      1/4 tsp ground black pepper

      Cook bacon on medium in large nonstick skillet 8-10 min, till browned and crisp. Dry on paper towels. Strain solids from fat and return 2 Tbsp to pan (add oil if needed). Add onions, salt, thyme to pan, cover and cook 10 min until wilting. Reduce heat to low and continue for 20 min until very soft, stirring a couple of times. If onions are still wet at 15 min, uncover for last 5 min. Let onions cool at least 5 min.

      Whisk eggs, pepper, half&half in bowl. Discarding thyme, stir onions into egg mixture, spread on baked crust; sprinkle bacon on top. Tart is baked at 375 20-25 min. You'll need to adjust the time for tartlets. I assume you have a recipe for a blind-baked crust.

      1. The ones have around Alsace also had pork... this is the recipe I use Keller is from there I think.
        It is great

        1. As so often with "classic" dishes, there isnt a single recipe. Google will find you Alsatian onion tarts with lardons and without lardons. However, it is probably impossible to find a more classic book than Larousse, unless you can find an Escoffier recipe - so if "authentic" is important to you go with Larousse. Personally, I from the camp that says there is almost nothing not improved by bacon.