Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ottolenghi's Surprise Tatin, Mostly

Over the last two weeks, I've made four different vegetable pies/tarts either directly out of or based on recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi's spectacular cookbook, Plenty. Three of them were made yesterday, because I'm a little bit insane. I am actually planning to announce my engagement to this magical book to my family at Christmas. Because... it's just that good. Here's the first of the recipes, and definitely my favorite of the four pies. I made a number of changes to ingredients based on what I had on hand, so if you'd like the original recipe you can find it here. (Note on the photo: I forgot to add the herbs before the potatoes, so they're hiding underneath. It would look much nicer if they were on top.)

surprise tatin modified recipe

2/3 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 lb baby potatoes, washed but not peeled
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for dish
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1 sheet puff pastry
1 small egg, beaten (optional)
parchment paper

Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for about 20 minutes or until softened. Drain and cool. Trim the tops and bottoms, and cut into 1-inch-thick discs. Preheat the oven to 400F.

Sauté the onion in the oil and a bit of salt over medium heat, or until brown. Add the garlic for the last few minutes, and cook until softened.

Pour a small amount of olive oil into the bottom of your pie pan, and use a paper towel or basting brush to wipe it evenly over the inside of the dish. Cut out a circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan.

In a small pot, cook the sugar and butter on high heat until it forms a semi-dark caramel. Quickly pour the caramel into the pan (on top of the parchment paper) and tilt the dish to spread it evenly (you may need to use a spoon to help spread it). Scatter the chopped sage over the caramel.

Place the potato slices close together on top of the caramel, filling the pan. Gently press the onions, garlic, and sundried tomatoes into the spaces between the slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and spread the cheese slices evenly over the vegetables.

Roll out the sheet of puff pastry until it's a little bigger than the pan, and cut it into a circle. Place this on top of the cheese, tucking the edges down around the potatoes. Brush with the beaten egg if you have it on hand. 

Bake for 25 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and puffy. Remove from the oven and let sit for a couple of minutes. Set a (heatproof!) plate upside-down over the dish and quickly flip them over so that the tart falls gently onto the plate.

The fact that I managed to flip this without damaging it is one of my proudest moments of the year. That never, ever works for me.


  1. have tried this pie four times now and it is my first ever failure - can't get the caramel to turn out right at all so wonder what i am doing wrong? i chose it as our boxing day supper and eventually got out something from the freezer at 10pm!
    either the sugar doesn't melt properly, or it turns to hardened toffee in the pan and you can't get it out! tried it with granulated sugar, caster sugar and muscovado sugar with all the same consequences! . . .

  2. That sounds awful! Maybe try adding more butter? That's my usual solution to unruly candy-making, but I'm definitely not an expert. Make sure you're using a heavy-bottomed pan so heat transfers slowly.

    I definitely recall the caramel being kind of stubborn to work with, but I just used a spatula to smear it around as best I could and it turned out fine. I think it re-melts a bit while baking, too.