Three apples (maybe four) cut in quarters. ¾c of sugar. A half stick of butter. A skillet. You cook it for a while, until everything is nice and brown but not burning. (I've seen people say “about 15 minutes” and other people say “a couple of hours” and probably both are right — depending on how much heat you’re using and how well the apples stand up. Any kind of apples will do fine, especially if they’re really tasty. Peel them, quarter them, core them, you’re good.
Then you lay a pie crust on top. Any kind of crust. I had some left-over puff pastry. If you're like me and pie crust takes over your kitchen, any batter will do. Thick pancake batter. Slump batter. It’s all good.
So, you toss the skillet into the oven for about 20 minutes. Maybe a little less, if you're using pancake batter. Maybe a little more. You want it nice and brown, that’s all. This isn’t rocket science. There can be no stress in the presence of pie.
So, now you take it out of the oven. Let it cool a little. Put a big plate over the pan. Flip everything over. Voila! (Or: your crust comes out, but your apples stick in the pan. No problem: it's supposed to be rustic. Take them out of the pan, put them back on the tarte.) Let it sit for a bit, so the juices soak the crust. You can't eat it right away: it’s too hot. Relax.
Eat. Thank Ruhlman.
Update: Bill Humphries makes the tarte, with photo.