RUSTIC BLACK CHERRY TART: A Perfect Dessert Pairing for Wild Game.
Updated: Nov 30, 2018
Gallons of propane, 100s of cubic feet of natural gas, 1000s of watt-hours of electricity, and millions of Instagram photos are spent on cooking ruffed grouse, woodcock, venison, elk and other wild game dishes this time of year. And rightly so. Heck, I get hungry just thinking about the smoked breasts, confits, stews, burgers, braised roasts, grilled tenderloin, seared steaks, and on! But how about what comes after? Once the table has been cleared and you push back your chair, rubbing your burgeoning Buddha belly full of wild game dinner in satiated delight, what then?
When I was a child, we always had dessert after our meals. Like, always. Pies, cakes, cookies, pastries, anything you can imagine in the glorious realm of sweet confections! 100 percent German heritage pretty much insured that. At the same time it endowed my mother, a sharpshooting game hunter, with awesome bakery and pastry skills, too. Fortunately, I inherited a smidge of it, so when planning a recent wild game dinner get-together I took a page from mom’s playbook and prepared an easy, rustic black cherry tart for a sweet, yet slightly tart dessert to cut the earthy, umami residual left on the tongue from the meal. Think: dessert pairings for wild game!
Blueberries, blackberries, plums, or any of the plump, darker fruits would work just as well. And if you don’t want to go to the trouble of a super flaky homemade lard crust, or homemade fresh fruit filling, the grocery store folks will be happy to help you fill your shopping cart! (Though it won’t taste as good as homemade. Just sayin’.)
Here’s how to make it:
BLACK CHERRY FILLING: (enough for 4 tarts, plus extra for another wild game dessert! Or, for topping waffles, ice cream, etc…)
2-2 ½ lbs. pitted black cherries
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup of sugar, or to taste
2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or to taste
In an enameled Dutch oven, or sauce pan, combine black cherries, water, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens. (About 10 minutes.) Taste fruit and add more sugar, cornstarch for thickening, and lemon juice as needed. This will vary depending on the ripeness of the fruit and your taste buds.
THE CRUST: (enough for 4 tarts.)
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter
2 tablespoons cold Crisco shortening
4 tablespoons cold leaf lard
3 to 5 tablespoons icy cold water
1 beaten egg for brushing
In a food processor, quickly pulse together the flour and salt. Add the butter, shortening, and lard and pulse until the mixture forms pea-size pieces . Or, if making by hand, stir together the flour and salt. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter, shortening and lard into the flour mixture until you get pea-sized pieces.
Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse or mix until the mixture is just moist enough to hold together. Form the crust into a ball, wrap with plastic and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before rolling out and baking.
ASSEMBLING THE TARTS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Divide chilled pie dough into fourths. Roll out each ¼ onto a lightly floured piece of parchment paper and slip onto a baking sheet. In the center of each dough round place approximately ½ cup of blackberry filling.
Fold up the edges to keep filling contained. Don’t worry about being perfect. This is why it’s called a “rustic” tart.
Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.