Garlic Kale Tamale Tart – yes, the crust is bright red!

The July issue of Saveur magazine was filled cover to cover with the foods of Texas. Everything from Pecan Pie to Mesquite Grilled steaks. But one recipe caught my eye, not only because it sounds delicious, but because the technique is unlike anything I’ve seen before.  It is a Tamale Tart by the chef Stephan Pyles. His version has a soft masa tart shell, a roasted garlic custard and piled high with crab and hot peppers, it looks worthy of a trip to Dallas just to get a slice from his restaurant. Instead of baking the tart he cooks it in a bamboo steaming basket, just as you would for making tamales. It would seem that the crust might get soggy, but it was perfect. The custard was soft, silky and decadently rich.

Now that I am a backyard urban farmer I have an abundance of fresh kale. I thought it would go beautifully with the garlic custard and ancho spiced crust. So I gave up the crab and created a lovely quiche like dish that was perfect all on its own, but would be lovely served as a side.

Garlic Kale Tamale Tart inspired by Stephan Pyles from Saveur magazine:

For the custard:

2 heads garlic

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 cups heavy cream

4 egg yolks

2 teaspoons kosher salt ( I found this a tad salty, so I would reduce it to 1 1/2)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

3 cups washed, stemmed and chopped kale

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste for cooking kale

For the tart shell:

1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

3 dried ancho chilies, soaked, seeded, stemmed and chopped (reserve 1/2 cup of soaking liquid)

2 cups masa harina

1/4 cup cornmeal

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons kosher salt (I found the recipe too salty and recommend reducing the salt to 1 1/2 teaspoons)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 tablespoons vegetable shortening or lard

To make custard:

preheat oven to 350 degrees

To roast garlic: Place the garlic in foil and drizzle with oil. Wrap up the garlic and bake for 40-45 minutes, until very soft. Once the garlic is soft, remove it from the foil, cut off the top and squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skin. set aside.

While the garlic is roasting set the cream in a saucepan and simmer, uncovered, until it is reduced to 1 cup, about 25-30 minutes. This is what makes the tart unbelievably smooth and rich.

To prepare the tart shell:

Bring a sauce pan of water to a boil and add the chopped bell pepper. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Strain and puree the bell pepper in a food processor. Should make about 3/4 cup, if not, add water until it equals 3/4 cup. set aside.

Puree the ancho chiles with 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid in the food processor, then strain through a fine mesh strainer. set side.

Place the masa, cornmeal, cumin, salt and cayenne in a medium sized bowl and whisk to blend. Put the shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat until fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and mix until it forms pea size crumbs. Add the pureed bell pepper and 6 tablespoons of the ancho chile puree. Mix until it forms a soft, slightly sticky dough. If the dough feels too dry, add water, one tablespoon at a time, until soft and slightly sticky.

Place the dough in a lightly greased 9 or 10-inch Tart Pan with Removable Bottom (Pyles called for 9-inch, but the dough makes enough for a 10- Tart Pans and that is what I ended up using. If you use a 9-inch be prepared to have left over dough.)

Press the dough until it covers the tart pan evenly and is no more than 1/4-inch thick.

Once the cream has reduced and the garlic is roasted you can prepare the custard. Whisk the garlic into the 1 cup of cream, allow to cool slightly and then whisk in the egg yolks. Add the salt and pepper.

Saute the kale in the olive oil for about 5-10 minutes or until soft, but still a vibrant color. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the custard into the tart shell and place the kale on top.

cover the tart with plastic wrap, it should go partly around the bottom of the pan.

Steam your tart in a Bamboo Steamer. Because I went with the 10-inch tart pan and my steamer wasn’t big enough, I had to create my own system to keep the pan out of the water, but still steamed. I ended up using an 8-inch spring form pan, with the bottom removed. This allowed the steam to reach my tart pan without having any water touch it. (You know what they say about necessity and inventions!)

Place the tart in the steamer and cover it with a tight fitting lid. Allow to cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the custard is just set.

Carefully remove the tart from the steamer with towels.

Carefully remove the plastic without damaging the custard, it may be a little difficult to get the plastic out from under the tart pan. I used a butter knife to lift one side and then it came off easily, just be careful of the steam that will come out from under the plastic. Allow to cool for a while and then remove the out ring from the tart pan.

Serve for brunch or as a side dish!