Onion tarte tatin is hugely fashionable, but this tart is more old-school – almost a quiche, with long strands of just-caramelised onion in an unctuous savoury custard, all of which can be beautifully offset by an off-dry pinot gris from Alsace. Alsatian pinot gris are forgotten wines. Soft and gentle when you first taste them but also textured and complex (like the Mills & Boon heroine with hidden depths), they’re the polar opposite of the bone-dry, screamingly-citric, brain-blow whites to which we have all become so addicted at the end of a hard day. If you love a fridge-cold shot of something sharp and brisk you might sip pinot gris and decide it’s not for you. But this is about the way it tastes with the food. I tend to buy pinot gris for two purposes only: to drink with Thai green curry and to drink with onion tart. And it works. If pinot gris melds gently with the sweetly-caramelised onions, there is a wine, equally good but in the opposite way, and it is red. When I talk about wines cutting across rich food it is usually acidity that is doing the cutting. With nebbiolo, the barolo grape from northern Italy, it’s the tannin that does the cutting – with its astringency. Nebbiolo loves a bit of egg, cream and cheese (I’ve put grated gruyère in the pastry), and here it’s got it. Eggs, cream and cheese love nebbiolo too – even if the wine, tasted alone, starts out thin and hard, they plump it out and soften the edges. Magic. Especially with a bitter leaf salad on the side.
Four bottles that are great with onion tart
La Vieille Ferme blanc 2013 France, 12.5% (Co-op, Waitrose, around £8.49) Softly aromatic white blend of marsanne and roussanne from the place where Provence meets the Rhône.
Wine Atlas Marsanne 2014 France, 12.5% (Asda, £5.47) A winner of a textured white from Asda’s beautifully-labelled new Wine Atlas range.
finest* Ascheri Barolo 2010 Italy, 14% (Tesco, £14.99) Autumnal red, made from nebbiolo, smells like tar and violets and mushrooms.
Cave de Beblenheim Pinot Gris Reserve 2013 Alsace, France, 13% (Waitrose, £9.99) Gently luscious, roses and smoke, medium-dry pinot gris from Alsace.
1 1/4 hours | serves 4 | easy | vegetarian
butter 100g, cold
plain flour 175g
gruyère cheese 50g, finely grated
egg yolk 1, beaten with 2 tbsp ice-cold water
onions 800g, peeled and finely sliced
thyme 2 sprigs
eggs 2, plus 1 yolk
single cream 150ml
bitter leaf salad to serve
First make the pastry. Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with your fingertips (or pulse in a food processor) until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in a pinch of salt and the cheese.Add the egg yolk and water and mix with a knife or blend until bound. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge.
To make the filling, melt the butter with 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, heavy pan.Add the onions and fry gently until they are soft and beginning to colour. This will take about half an hour then leave to cool. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6, roll out the pastry and use it to line a buttered deep sided 20cm or a shallow 23cm tart tin. Cover the base with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and cook for 5 minutes more.
Strip the thyme leaves from their stems and add to the onions. Mix the eggs, egg yolk and cream and season. Pour into the pastry case and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the the tart is wobbly but just cooked. Serve with a bitter leaf salad.
PER SERVING 758 kcals, fat 54.2g, saturates 29.1g, carbs 48.4g, fibre 5.6g, protein 16.4g, salt 1.1g