Saturday, April 16, 2011


I've been trying to keep an eye on our grocery budget.  It's a struggle to cook fresh foods and keep the grocery bill under $100 a week, which is shockingly high to me, but it is what it is.  With the budget in mind, I went to Melissa D'arabian, host of Food Network's Ten Dollar Dinners, for some dinner ideas.  I found this meal, which used ingredients I had on hand and also sounded really good.

I struggled with the pie crust.  A lot.  I almost threw everything away to make a different meal.  See, I followed her directions, but then realized my food processor is really too small to make the dough as written.  I soldiered on, however, and made it.  It came out really doughy, perhaps because I lost some of the flour mixture to the counter, and was impossible to roll.  I added a LOT of flour, and was really nervous about how it would turn out.  Nonetheless, M even commented on the pie crust, saying it was really good.  Sweet!  It was pretty easy as pie crusts go (the only other ones I've made have been of the Dorie Greenspan variety), especially if you have a larger processor bowl than mine!

I made a few modifications based on what I had.  First, no Gruyere round here (though I probably chose this recipe because of the Gruyere in the fridge that needed to be use, but ), so instead used the shredded cheddar and shredded monterey jack in the fridge.  I also had no fresh thyme, so just used a little bit of dried thyme, and left it in the cream.  I upped the cream to 1 cup, following the suggestions of reviews on the food network website, and also took the reviewer's suggestion to pre-roast the potatoes (I sliced them thin, drizzled with olive oil, and cooked them for 10 minutes on 375, flipped them, and cooked for another 10 minutes). I also topped the layers with some tomato; awesome choice there!

And that's one of the great things about this recipe.  It can be customized to pretty much what you like, have in your kitchen, or need to use up.  Vegetarian?  Omit the bacon.  Find a great deal on fresh produce?  Do it!
I really wish the pictures had come out decent for this...

Potato-Bacon Torte courtesy Melissa D'Arabian
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Pie Crusts, recipe follows
  • 3 medium baking potatoes, peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked with a splash of water


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until just crispy. Drain on paper towel lined plate and set aside. Crumble the bacon when cool to the touch.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the thyme and cream over low heat to a bare simmer. Turn off the heat and let steep for about 5 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Remove the pie pan from the refrigerator. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and then finely slice the potatoes. Working in circles, arrange the potato slices in the pie crust, stopping to season each layer with salt, pepper, and about 1/4 of the crumbled bacon. Continue layering until the pie pan is nearly full. Top with an even layer of the cheese and gently pour cream around and over the entire pie, allowing it to seep down between the potato slices. (You may not use all the cream.)

Roll out the remaining disk of refrigerated dough. Cover the pie with the dough and crimp the edges closed. Brush the top and edges of the crust with egg wash. Make a few slits in the center of the top crust, for the steam to escape, and put the pie pan on a baking sheet. Bake the torte until the crust is browned and crispy and the potatoes are cooked through, about 50 to 60 minutes. If the crust edges get too brown, cover them with some strips of aluminum foil. Remove the pie from the oven and let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Pie Crust:

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), cubed and chilled
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 to 10 tablespoons ice water
Put the butter, flour, and salt in the food processor, and pulse lightly just until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing briefly after each spoonful of water. Keep adding water until the dough just begins to gather into larger clumps. Transfer equal amounts of the dough into 2 resealable plastic bags and pat each into a disk. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove 1 of the disks from the bag to a flour coated surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 10-inch round. Gently fit the rolled dough into a 9-inch pie pan, and refrigerate while you prepare the torte ingredients.

Yield: 2 (9-inch) pie crusts

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