The Surprising Reason Potato-Bacon Torte Is My Favorite Recipe

Find out why Food Network's Melissa d'Arabian deems her Potato-Bacon Torte her all-time favorite recipe

POTATOBACON TORTE Melissa d’ Arabian Ten Dollar Dinners/Perfectly Priced Parisian Food Network Bacon, Fresh Thyme, Heavy Cream, Pie Crusts, Baking Potatoes, Salt, Pepper, Gruyere Cheese, Egg, Butter, Allpurpose Flour

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

POTATOBACON TORTE Melissa d’ Arabian Ten Dollar Dinners/Perfectly Priced Parisian Food Network Bacon, Fresh Thyme, Heavy Cream, Pie Crusts, Baking Potatoes, Salt, Pepper, Gruyere Cheese, Egg, Butter, Allpurpose Flour

There are questions that I am asked over and over by journalists, fans, and TV and radio hosts. One of them: What is my favorite thing to cook?

The answer: My Potato-Bacon Torte (which, interestingly, seems to be my fans’ favorite too!). But the reason may surprise you. It actually surprised me, once I took the time to give real thought to the follow-up question, “Why?” — which no one ever seemed to ask, until recently.

The Potato-Bacon Torte (pictured above) is certainly tasty comfort food: rich with cream, slightly smoky from bacon and deliciously encrusted with the unmistakable aroma of buttery crust that flakes under the pressure of teeth sinking in for a bite. The entire house smells like a fluffy, warm croissant when I bake it.

A small sliver served with a simple green salad with a tangy Dijon vinaigrette is the perfect winter supper, if you ask me. And the recipe costs pennies per serving to make, so it aligns with the frugal me.

Melissa-dArabian-Green-Salad

Melissa-dArabian-Green-Salad

Photo by: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Tara Donne, FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

In 2009, I made a Potato-Bacon Torte as part of the “ultimate dinner party” challenge on Food Network Star for a group of incredibly esteemed chefs (including Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Rick Bayless and Francois Payard). There were three of us finalists left, fighting for a spot in the finale, and my Potato-Bacon Torte helped me secure one of the coveted spots (and eventually the winning title). So you might say that I count this recipe as one of my lucky charms.

But winning Food Network Star isn’t the reason I adore the Potato-Bacon Torte.

I love the torte because it represents so many parts of my life, all in one dish. From my childhood, I carry on my mom’s tradition of carving steam vents in the crust in the shape of my guests’ initials. Potato and bacon baked in a crust came from my mother-in-law, Muriel, who served it to me the first time I visited my husband’s home village in the South of France.

Get the recipe: Potato-Bacon Torte

Muriel is also the woman who talked me into pure butter crusts, and I’ve never looked back at my shortening days. And since I’ve had my own daughters, I have served the Potato-Bacon Torte at every one of our annual Mother-Daughter Holiday Teas.

Yes, the torte is luscious, flaky and comforting (try it!). I do believe it’s a big reason why I won my own TV show, and it deserved its spot in the very first season of Ten Dollar Dinners, and in the book Ten Dollar Dinners.

But it’s the rich history behind the torte — and the memories that are baked into each one — that makes it my favorite recipe. It’s the people I imagine each time I make it, and the people I see each time I serve it.

Inspired to make your comfort food favorites? Up the ante and try these fun recipes:

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