Zwiebelkuchen

by NAA

When the crispness of the coming equinox creeps into the air and the leaves begin to turn, local Winzers (vintners) brew up their annual batches of Sturm. If you live in Europe and haven’t already sampled this delightful hallmark of the fall harvest, I strongly encourage you to do so, and if you’re wondering how to pair this unique wine with a meal, let me suggest Zwiebelkuchen (onion tart).

Actually, I can’t take credit for this suggestion. Zwiebelkuchen is the traditional dish served with Sturm, and frankly, it’s no wonder:  Sturm’s fruity bright acidity provides the perfect punctuation to each bite of rich, salty Zwiebelkuchen.

While a recipe search will reveal countless variations on the theme, I tend to shy away from overly-complicated recipes given our limited array of kitchen gadgetry (last year’s Thanksgiving notwithstanding). Here is an easy version of this melty miracle of savory, calories-be-damned satisfaction from my friend Betsey. If you want to try Zwiebelkuchen but don’t have Sturm where you are, the dish pairs nicely with any fresh, unoaked white wine with high acidity (try a Chablis or Sauvignon Blanc).

Just remember: if you toast with Sturm, the proper toast isn’t the usual Prost, but rather, Mahlzeit!

Zwiebelkuchen

Zwiebelkuchen

– one roll of pre-made puff pastry (Blätterteig), thawed

– 4-6 medium white onions, chopped*

– about a cup of chopped pancetta (roughly two heaping handfuls)

– 2 eggs

– about 1/4 cup of heavy cream or crème fraiche

– about 3 cups (450g) gouda cheese, grated

– about a TBSP caraway seeds  (optional)

*The only sure-fire way I know to avoid tears while chopping 6 onions is to wear a pair of swim goggles — works like a charm. If you don’t have swim goggles, the next best thing is to light a candle next to the chopping block. It helps take the edge off, but you’ll probably still get a sniffle or two.

Preheat oven to 200C (375F).

Add oil and onions to a cold sauté pan, turn heat up to medium-low and sauté until onions are just translucent, but not too soft and definitely not browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

Roll out your dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and arrange cooked onions, then pancetta evenly over the dough.

In a separate bowl, whip together eggs and cream until light and frothy. Pour the mixture evenly over onions, pancetta and dough.

Sprinkle the grated gouda evenly over the top and place tart in the oven.  Bake until cheese turns golden and pastry is cooked, about 25 – 30 minutes. Keep a close eye on the tart for the last ten minutes to be sure it doesn’t burn.

Remove from oven, allow to cool briefly, then cut into squares. Serve warm with Sturm.

Mahlzeit!

{images by me}

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