Tartiflette

A very typical Savoyard dish, tartiflette is exactly what your body craves after a hard day in the mountains. Creamy and comforting, it is also extremely quick, easy and inexpensive to put together (just in case you need an excuse…)

The key ingredient is Reblochon, a soft, round, washed rind cow’s milk cheese, which is produced here in the Haute Savoie. I sometimes think Reblochon is a little like a sophisticated Dairylea; it has that same smooth, but ever so slightly chewy, texture, though its taste is (unsurprisingly!) quite different, being strong and nutty.

Apparently the dish of tartiflette was invented by the Reblochon trade union in order to increase sales of the cheese. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know, but it is certainly the case that each supermarket in the region has its own shelf dedicated to Reblochon and the restaurants on the pistes must get through an awful lot of it.

This is the method I follow for making tartiflette, cobbled together from a few different recipes. Using crème fraiche instead of double cream feels less heart attack inducing, and I find that cooking the white wine with the bacon and onions rather than simply pouring it over at the end allows the flavours to infuse better. It also means you can use the dregs of any old thing you have in the kitchen – I use Carrefour Discount Muscat for my cooking white wine, which is utterly indigestible until it’s had a good bubbling in the pan.

This is a very basic recipe – feel free to mix it up according to which ingredients you like best, the size of your dish and, of course, how hard you’ve been skiing/gardening/reading while curled up by the fire that day…

For two people

5 medium sized potatoes

3 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

100g lardons/bacon, chopped

250g crème fraiche

Approx 100ml white wine

One petit Reblochon (c.200g)

Preheat oven to its highest temperature.

Peel the potatoes and slice into rounds, approx 1cm thick. Boil until tender – they will not get much cooking time in the oven.

Meanwhile, fry the lardons/bacon until well coloured and, if you like, slightly crispy. You know how you like your pig cooked!

Add the garlic to the pan and cook gently, stirring, until its scent is released. I use smoked lardons and the aromas at this point are truly mouth watering. Now add the sliced onions and cook slowly until soft and golden, then the wine, turning up the heat to let the alcohol bubble off. Throw the potatoes into the mix and turn everything over so that the potatoes get slightly fried in that delicious porky fat from the lardons, then mix in enough crème fraiche to make a wonderful bacony, garlicy, winey sauce that will keep everything nice and moist. Warning – the pan will not look pretty at this point!

Pour the contents of the pan into a casserole dish and top with Reblochon. You can either remove the rind and then add small slices or, for a more interesting looking topping, slice the cheese in half across its diameter and place it rind up.

Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes – any rind should be hard, and any soft cheese should be bubbling away and browning in places.

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