A tart savoury from Food Network chef Michael Smith. This pastry plates beautifully when served with crème fraîche on a bed of spinach salad.
2 lb. bacon slices, at room temperature
Pepper to taste
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
5-7 large baking potatoes (about 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 lb.)
Salt to taste
1 cup minced onion
1 head garlic, peeled and minced
1 recipe Spinach Salad
1 recipe Crème Fraîche
Step 1: Line a 9" cast-iron skillet with parchment paper. Trim the edges of the paper so it just clears the top edge of the pan. Spray the paper lightly with oil.
Step 2: Carefully arrange the bacon slices in a radial pattern from the centre of the pan to the lower edge, then up and over the rim. Let the ends hang over the rim. Overlap the slices slightly around the edges of the pan; bacon will be thicker in the pan's centre. To reduce the thickness of the bacon in the centre, stagger every other piece of bacon, starting it 2" from the centre and extending it farther than the adjacent slices. With the palm of your hand, flatten the centre area, leaving no holes through the bacon. Grind some pepper onto the bacon, and sprinkle on 2 tbsp of the shredded cheddar.
Step 3: Without peeling them, slice the potatoes thinly. The slices should be uniform and about 1/4" thick. Arrange a circular layer of overlapping potato slices on top of the bacon around the edge of the skillet. Continue arranging rings of overlapping potato until the bottom of the pan is evenly covered. Sprinkle the potato with salt and pepper.
Step 4: In a bowl, mix together onion and garlic. Sprinkle some of the onion mixture onto the potato layer, then follow with a layer of cheese. Cover with another layer of potato, pressing it down firmly before adding more seasoning. Repeat the layers until the potato reaches the top of the skillet. Add 2 more layers rising above the top of the pan, each inset 1" from the previous layer. End with a layer of potato.
Step 5: Taking one slice and a time, fold the bacon up and over the potato mound toward the centre. Carefully overlap each slice, and repeat until the top is completely covered with bacon. Trim a small piece of parchment paper and place it in between a small oven proof lid and the bacon. The lid is meant only to weigh the bacon ends down during the early stages of baking so they don't pull away and shrink. Don't use a large lid that will slow down the tart's baking time. Leave the lid on while the tart bakes.
Step 6: Place the tart on a baking sheet, and put it in the oven. Bake it about 2-1/2-3 hours at 350ºF. It is done when a thin knife inserted into it meets no resistance. The bacon will have browned and tightened, forming a crust, and the potatoes will have shrunk. Pour any excess fat that is inside the pan. Let the tart stand for 30 minutes so that it will solidify.
Plate Layout: Place a pile of spinach salad on each of 8 plates. Re-heat the tart slices in a microwave if needed, and place a slice of the tart on the salad. Top with a spoonful of the crème fraîche.