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Sausage and Ranier Cherry Tart with Lemon, Thyme and Goat Cheese. Baked in a traditional French pastry crust.

One of the best things the French may have given us is La Tartine; The Tart.  This thin, dainty but decadent pastry evokes a lot of its country of origin. When I was an apprentice pastry chef in high school, I learned how to make all kinds of fruit, berry and chocolate tarts for the ever changing dessert menu. Then, a couple years ago I picked up a tart pan at Sur la Table and decided to refresh my memory.

To inspire my venture, I ditched the traditional crust I had been using and sought out a recipe for an authentic French pastry crust. I found one by French Chef Paule Caillat that will change your life… no kidding. I had to leave the house this afternoon just so I would stop eating it. ( See bottom of this post for the recipe and photos.)

While I grew up making sweet tarts, I have begun to try my hand at savory ones as well. I developed this recipe because it is peak cherry season here in the Northwest and I wanted to experiment using them in main course. I was thrilled with the results! You can easily omit the sausage to make it vegetarian. The only change I may make next time is to put some lemon zest in the crust as well to give it a little more punch. Perhaps you can try it and let me know?

Ingredients:

1 Tart Shell (see below)

3/4 lb Rainer Cherries, cut in half, pitted and stemmed
1/2 Lb Italian Pork or Chicken Sausage
1 TBLS Fresh Thyme, chopped
1 large lemon, zested
4 Oz Goat Cheese
2 TBLS Shallot, Diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 Eggs
1/2 cup light cream
1 TSP olive oil
1/2 TSP Salt
Fresh ground pepper

To Make:

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat and add shallots and garlic. Remove sausage from its casing and add to pan. Break up sausage into small pieces as it cooks. Remove from heat when sausage is browned; drain any excess oil. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk eggs, salt, pepper, lemon zest and thyme, then whisk in cream.

Spread sausage as bottom layer in cooled tart crust. Arrange cherry halves, skin side up in a circular pattern in tart shell. Pour egg mixture evenly over cherries. Break off dime-sized pieces of the goat cheese and arrange in between cherries (almost like the cement in between bricks.)

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until flan is set. Cool on a cooling rack, slice then enjoy! Wrap and refrigerate leftovers. This tart is just as good cold for breakfast.

Traditional French Pastry Dough

 a recipe by Paule Caillat of Promenades Gourmandes from David Lebovitz‘s blog.

The method may seem unconventional to Americans, but trust me, you will be comparing every crust you ever eat to it. It’s light, flakey and most importantly carries a browned butter flavor that melts in your mouth. It also does not require any messy kneading or down time in the refrigerator. This tart shell creates the perfect backdrop for a sweet or savory tart

Makes One 9 inch tart shell

3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 slightly-rounded cup flour

Preheat the oven to 410º F

1. In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.

2. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.

3. When done, remove the bowl from oven (and be careful, since the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

4. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch oiled tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula.

5. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold. Reserve a small piece of dough, about the size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks.

6. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about ten times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

7. Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them.

8. Let the shell cool before filling. Leave in tart pan.