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ONION AND SAGE TARTS

2 pounds yellow onions (3 large or 4 medium), sliced
2 ounces bacon (2 slices), finely diced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
4 7-inch Flaky Pastry Tart Shells

Peel the onions and cut them in half from root to tip. Cut out the
dense core at the root end and slice the onions 1/4 inch thick,
again from root end to tip. Cook the bacon, stirring often, in a
large (4-quart) saucepan over medium heat until almost crisp. Add
the onions, sugar, and salt, and cook, stirring often until they
cook down by two-thirds, about 10 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons vinegar,
reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to cook until the onions
are an even golden brown and softened to a marmalade consistency,
15 to 30 minutes, depending on the onions. Stir often and scrape
up any brown bits clinging to the bottom of the pan. The onions
need almost constant stirring near the end to prevent them from
sticking and burning. Stir in the sage, allow them to cool slightly,
then taste and season with black pepper and additional salt if
needed. If the onions seem overly sweet, stir in another teaspoon
of vinegar.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Stir the cream and egg into the caramelized
onions until thoroughly combined. Divide the filling among the tart
shells and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon. Bake in the
upper third of the oven until the filling is set, about 15 minutes.
The filling should still be soft but not runny. Let cool slightly,
then transfer the tarts to a cutting board using a large spatula.
Cut each into 8 wedges with the downward pressure of a sharp chef's
knife. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Variations

For large tarts, prebake 2 10-inch Free-Form Tart Shells. Divide
the onion mixture between them and bake the tarts until the filling
is set in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. Using a large spatula,
transfer them to a cutting board and cut each into 12 wedges.

In place of sage, use an equal amount of finely chopped rosemary,
marjoram, savory, English thyme, or lemon thyme.

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