Tomato Tart from ‘Au Pied de Cochon’ Cookbook by Martin Picard
Martin Picard and Friends at his Quebec Sugar Shack
I had never met Montreal chef and reputed wild man Martin Picard until I went to his sugar shack.
Before that, I felt I knew him via his food and reputation. Whenever I visit Montreal – my birthplace and the city where my late dad grew up in the legendary Mile End Jewish ghetto – I make sure to eat at his famous restaurant Au Pied de Cochon. Opened in 2001, it has become a favourite of food celebrities like roaming maverick and nose-to-tail aficionado Anthony Bourdain. Here, chef Picard’s flavour-forward food and blatantly Quebecois menu reflects his daring, colourful personality.
He has a food TV series aptly called The Wild Chef. He has appeared on Bourdain’s brilliant show Parts Unknown. In 2009, he opened a sugar shack near Montreal that’s so successful I, among many others, was unable to get a table.
Lesley Chesterman, restaurant critic for the Montreal Gazette, raves about him: “The cult of Au Pied de Cochon is now deeply ensconced in our restaurant culture. Just take a look at Canadian chefs like Jamie Kennedy and Rob Feenie, who have served the chef’s signature dish, foie-gras-topped poutine, and there’s no doubt the provocative Picard is one of the most-watched cooks in the nation.”
He has two cookbooks. I own the first: Au Pied de Cochon: An Album. And that is where I came upon this sensational dish – a sweetly simple and unusually delicious tomato tart. This has endeared Martin Picard to me as only a wonderful shared recipe can do. Stay tuned for my podcast chat with him – and, as usual, you’re welcome!
The secrets to this are the delicious pastry, a layer of Bechamel and the dusting of Gruyere cheese. I used cherry tomatoes – I find they often have more flavour than the larger ones. I halved a recipe for Bechamel Sauce in the cookbook and had a little left over. Whoever wrote this recipe must have used a convection oven; I corrected the baking time by doubling it. Again, you’re welcome 🙂
1 cup cold butter, cut in cubes
1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cold water
Pinch of salt
Add flour, salt and cubed butter to food processor. Process until mixture is like coarse breadcrumbs. Add water; process until dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill in fridge at least 2 hours.
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups cold milk
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Melt butter in small saucepan. Whisk in flour. Cook over low heat, whisking, until golden. Gradually whisk in milk. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to boil; reduce heat and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
1 recipe Pie Dough (above)
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (above)
6 fresh ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 to 3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400F.
Let pie dough stand until it reaches room temperature. Roll out until thin. Cut out 6 rounds each about 6 inches in diameter.
Spread with an even layer of Bechamel Sauce, then dot with dabs of Dijon mustard. Sprinkle grated Gruyere cheese on top. Arrange tomato slices on top. Sprinkle with thyme, then salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
Bake in oven about 20 minutes or until edge of tart is golden brown.
Makes 6 individual tarts.