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An Irish Chef in France

PissaladièreEuro-Toques chef Martin Dwyer, is much missed in Ireland since he and his wife Sile sold their eponymous restaurant in Waterford and moved to France. They now live in the Languedoc, where they take guests - and feed them very well.

This month: Pissaladière

I have been aware of Pissaladière for as long as I have been cooking, certainly I remember producing large quantities in The Wife of Bath in Kent when I worked there in the seventies. I would have regarded it as a sort of French take on the Pizza, made with a less doughy crust but having the ubiquitous tomato topping.

After we moved to France I began to notice that the same pissaladière was a very common street food in the Languedoc. Sold commonly on market stalls and in traiteur’s shops this was a different creature from pissaladière I had cooked many years before in England. This was a totally tomato free zone and the topping was universally the same, melting soft pale brown onions topped in a lattice fashion with anchovies and olives.

Having tried a few of these slices I quickly realised how much this pure and simple tart was better without the addition of tomatoes, or indeed chorizo or tuna or even sweetcorn with which I have seen it decorated in restaurants and cookbooks.

I went back to my Master, Elizabeth David, to see what she had to say. She of course got it right. She calls it a tart spread with onions, olives anchovies and SOMETIMES tomatoes (my capitals) and also advocates the use of a lighter pate brisée for the base.

She says that it is the aromatic filling of onions, anchovies and olives which is important. She also hints that far from being copied from the Italians it is likely that the Italians copied this from the French to make their Pizza.

Here is my version of the one commonly available here in Languedoc.

Pissaladière

Base:

225g flour 110g butter 1 egg 1 tbs cold water

Topping:

3 tablespoons olive Oil 6 large onions sliced thinly 12 whole anchovies (24 fillets) preferably from Collioure. 24 black olives (stoned)

Base:

Make the base like you would make shortcrust pastry.

Either rub the butter into the flour by hand or in a food processor.

Bind into a dough with the egg and the water.

Leave this for an hour in the fridge to rest.

Roll this out to a circle about 12 inch wide and put on a baking sheet or use it to line an oiled 12" round pan (or a rectangular swiss roll tray)

Set the oven to 200C 400F gas 6.

Cook the pastry base at this temperature for 15 minutes until brown and crisp
(I find there is no need to weigh this down)

Topping:

Peel and slice the onions and cook in the olive oil in a covered pan on a low heat for about one hour until melting.

Now take the lid off the pan and raise the heat to cook off the liquid.

Watch the onions carefully as you want them to brown a little but not burn.

Spoon these over the dough base.

Slice the anchovies in two along their length and make a lattice on top of the onions with them. Into each square put a stoned olive.

Cook in a moderately hot oven (190C, 375F, Gas 5) for about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve this warm or at room temperature.

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Martin & Sile DwyerMartin Dwyer started cooking professionally over 40 years ago in the legendary “Snaffles Restaurant” in Dublin. After a time in a Relais Chateau in Anjou and in “The Wife of Bath” in Kent he opened his own much acclaimed restaurant, “Dwyers”, in Waterford in 1989. In 2004 he sold this and moved south to France where he and his wife Síle bought and restored an old presbytery in a village in the Languedoc. They now run Le Presbytère as a French style Chambre d’Hôte. Martin however is far too passionate about food to give up cooking so they now enjoy serving dinner to their customers on the terrace of Le Presbytère on warm summer evenings. Martin runs occasional cookery courses in Le Presbytère and Síle’s brother Colm does week long Nature Strolls discovering the Flora and Fauna of the Languedoc. 

Le Presbytère can be seen at: www.lepresbytere.net
email: martin@lepresbytere.net

 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/DwyerThezan

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