Photographer: Todd Zawistowski
In the spring of 2012, Mary and Aaron Brower plunged into a new life on their sustainable, community-based Bluestem Farm: 80 acres of veggies, 1,000 chickens, 11 goats, 12 hogs, turkeys, bees, shiitake mushrooms, heirloom apples, a hoop house and beef cattle on the way. And know that the leaf lard used in the recipe below—a special lard that contains less saturated fat than butter—doesn’t render itself. Mary cooks that up—as she does a cornucopia of other farm-to-table meals for family and friends. From their four-season CSA to farm concerts, find out more about Bluestem farm: bluestemfarm.net.—E.E.
2 cups roasted buttercup squash (probably a little less than 1 squash)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
¾ + 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm water
1 egg beaten
3 tablespoons leaf lard (can be purchased through Bluestem Farm) or butter
24 whole sage leaves
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced long
½ teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 egg, yolk separated
1 tablespoon of milk
Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds, and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Add 1 cup boiling water to the sheet and bake until very soft, about 30 minutes.
Stir the flour, ¾ teaspoon salt, and dry yeast together in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and add the water, beaten egg, and melted and slightly cooled leaf lard or butter. Stir the dough ingredients together first with a spoon and then your hand. Knead it on the counter for a few minutes and then let it rise, covered with a damp tea towel, for an hour or so.
Toast the sage in a heavy pan in hot olive oil until it is crisp and rigid. Remove to a plate and slowly sauté (20 minutes or longer) the onions with the sugar, mustard and remaining salt until they relax and turn caramel-colored.
When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a board and roll it into a circle a couple inches wider than the width of the pie pan, cast-iron skillet, pizza stone or baking sheet you plan to bake it in or on. Flour the dough circle well and carefully fold it into quarters like a handkerchief, so you can move it from the counter to the pizza stone or pan. Fill the crust with squash and smooth it out so you have about two inches of dough beyond. Fold the overhanging dough over itself and the filling so it makes a rough frill with an opening at the center. Paint the dough with egg yolk and milk before baking.
Bake for 40 minutes. To serve, crumble a few sage leaves over each wedge of tart, and serve either at room temperature or warm.