3-4 lbs tomatoes (any variety: heirloom, cherry, or slicing tomatoes)
3-4 yellow onions
1 fennel bulb (optional)
Kosher or sea salt
Slice tomatoes. Discard any bad spots, fibrous cores, and stems. Place the slices between double layers of absorbent paper towel, sprinkling salt on the tomatoes before covering with the paper towels. You can stack up to three layers of tomatoes. Press gently to release some of the excess water inside the tomatoes. Let rest between the layers of paper towel for 30 minutes or so.
Slice the onions (and fennel if using) into thin wedges. Heat oil in a heavy skillet and saute for a few minutes. Sprinkle a pinch or two of kosher salt over the onions (and fennel) and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until they have browned and are quite tender and sweet.
8 oz (by weight), or 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fennel seed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 oz cold unsalted European-style butter
2 oz vegetable shortening
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Weigh or measure flour and seasonings in a medium sized bowl. Stir until combined evenly. Cut the butter into small chunks or cubes. Add the butter and shortening to the flour mixture. With light fingertip pinches, begin to rub the flour into the fat until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Do not over-mix pastry dough, as it can make the crust tough. The fat should stay cold if possible, as the flour will absorb the melted fat and cause the texture of the crust to be too hard and chewy.
Once the fat is rubbed into the flour, add a couple of tablespoons of cold water to the mixture and stir with a fork. Add more water, one tablespoon at a time, until it begins to form a ball when stirred. Again, be careful to not over-mix or work the dough more than necessary. The dough should be a little sticky, but not wet.
Turn the dough out onto a floured wooden board. Sprinkle a little flour over the top of the dough and shape into a flattened ball or circle with your hands. Make sure there is enough flour underneath to keep the dough from sticking to the board. Using a floured rolling pin, gently roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.
Place the dough in a baking dish. Roll the edges inward, then pinch to shape the edge.
Gently press foil into the crust and fill with baking beans to weigh the crust while baking blind.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the crust is firm but not browned. Remove from the oven. Discard the foil (but cool the beans and save for your next pie crust). Let the crust cool to room temperature.
Bacon & Blue Cheese Aioli:
2 Egg yolks
1 Clove of garlic
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 Tbs white wine
1 Cup canola oil
About 1-3 oz of Sequatchie Cove Farm Battle Blue Cheese (can substitute Roquefort or Stilton)
1/2 lb Main Street Meats belly bacon, fried hard and crispy, then crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice and wine into a blender and blend until smooth. On medium speed, begin pouring the oil in a very slow stream into the egg mixture. It is important to pour the oil into the mixture very slowly in order for the emulsion to happen. After about 5 minutes, and when you are getting to the end of the oil, the mixture will turn from a runny dressing to a creamy emulsion. Turn the power off, then add about 1-2 oz of blue cheese and 1/2 of the fried bacon crumbles, then blend on low until it is just combined but still chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assembly & Baking Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spread onions and tomatoes in layers in the bottom of the prepared pie crust, then cover with the aioli. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the topping begins to brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Garnish with blue cheese and bacon crumbles. Serve warm or cold.