I knew we’d have a small crowd on Monday. One friend is visiting family in Maine and another is in Minnesota. It was the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and I think that in general, everyone hibernates during that time as much as possible.
It’s the only time of year that it’s acceptable to hibernate quite that much.
A very small crowd, indeed. Just Chef and me, Chef’s parents, and Chef’s four-year-old nephew who fell asleep in the car on the way to our house, and slept in the recliner in front of the fireplace all through dinner.
Does this mean that we skimp on the food?
NO IT DOES NOT.
By the time I got home from work on Monday (with a stupid headache which required immediate medication), Chef had the house smelling delightful with a roasted chicken (shown here, half demolished because I forgot to take a photo until after we’d devoured it.)
He was slicing potatoes, and while he made a run to the Dollar General for milk, I finished it off by slicing onions and dropping portions of sausage on top.
This is really good. You layer potatoes and sweet potatoes and onions, add in a nice quantity of butter, salt, and pepper, then top it off with some ground pork sausage. Cover it with foil and put it in the oven on 400 for about an hour to an hour and a half. The combination of the sweet potatoes and sausage tastes especially nice.
I also made some cornbread, but it didn’t turn out. After my biscuit fiasco on Christmas Eve, this was another layer of disappointment. It’s a bit too much to say humiliation, but we’re getting there. I promise, I CAN make bread. All kinds of bread! Yeast bread, quick bread, biscuits, corn muffins. I CAN! But the biscuits were hockey pucks and the cornbread was gooey on the inside. I think the problem with the cornbread was that the oven wasn’t hot enough (Chef was baking some other things in there at a slightly lower temperature) and the oven was really really full (of chicken, potatoes & sausage, plus the cornbread), so the cornbread didn’t get its fair share of the heat.
But I’m really going to have to figure out how to redeem myself soon.
Still, in spite of gooey cornbread, the meal was wonderful, and there was a lot of food.
But then… the Pièce de résistance!
The Tart Tatin.
You must say this with a French accent. It sounds a little bit like “tart taTAN.”
It was heavenly.
Melt about half a stick of butter in a saute pan, and add half a cup of sugar. Cook it and stir it until the sugar is caramelized. The butter-sugar mixture should be medium to dark brown. Remove from the heat, and layer sliced, peeled pears into the mixture. Put it back on the stove and cook it until you get some nice brownness. Don’t mix the pears up when you’re doing this, or you’ll mess up the pretty arrangement you made with them.
Once the pears are warm and soft and caramelized and delicious, cover the pan with a circle of pie crust that exactly fits the pan. Put it in the oven and bake it at about 400 for about 20 minutes, until the pie crust is done. Remove the pan from the oven. Here comes the tricky part — you’re going to flip the whole thing into a pie plate or other round pan (Chef used a beautiful pie plate that his dad made and gave us for Christmas) so that the pastry is on the bottom and the pears are on top.
And when you eat it, you will faint with delight.
I did. They had to revive me.
I’m sorry the crowd was so small that they missed this amazing meal.
But not too sorry. After all, there was more for me.