For those of you that have been skiing in the French Alps won’t have failed to notice the popular dish of the region that appears on nearly every menu in the restaurants, Tartiflette. The dish consisting of potatoes, cheese, lardons and onions, and is like a big hug of warming, deliciousness that conveys an image of traditional alpine food such as raclette and fondue going back centuries. However it’s not until you start looking into the history of the dish that you find out that instead of being an indigenous dish of the Savoie region of France, the tartiflette recipe was developed in the 1980s by the Le Syndicat Interprofessionnel du Reblochon to help boost the sagging sales of Reblochon cheese.
The name Tartiflette derives from the Savoie word for potatoes, tartifles, though the real origin of of the dish is the more traditional Savoyarde dish Péla, which consists of only Reblochon, potatoes and onions without the wine, cream and lardons. Since the dish doesn’t really have such a long history to become a traditional classic set in stone, there isn’t really a definitive way of cooking it, though the best focus on ways to increase the flavour and harmony of the dish. The real star of the dish is the Reblochon cheese, which there isn’t really an alternative for, but if you are unable to get a hold of it, then a brie combined with tasty mountain cheese such as Gruyère could be used instead.
Tartiflette Recipe – The not so traditional Alpine dish
- 450g (1lb) of Reblochon cheese
- 1kg (2.2lbs) waxy par-boiled potatoes with the skins left on
- 1 thinly sliced medium onion
- 4 tbsp of butter
- 200g (7oz) lardons or chopped bacon
- 150ml (5oz) dry white wine
- 150ml (5oz) heavy cream
- 1 clove of garlic
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pre heat the oven to 190C (375F)
- First par-boil the potatoes in their skins until they just begin to soften. This will help ensure that they are fully cooked when serving.
- Chop the potatoes into smallish cubes and in 2tbsp of butter gently sauté them until they are slightly coloured. Set aside.
- In 2tbsp of butter gently sauté the onions and lardons until the onions just start to brown. Pour in the wine and allow it to simmer and reduce to nothing. Take off the heat and add the cream, some salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
- I don’t think the dish needs garlic added to it since the Reblochon cheese has enough flavour itself, so instead rub a cut glove of garlic all over the inside of an oven-proof dish.
- Cover the base of the dish with half the potatoes and then spoon over half of the onion mixture.
- Cut the Reblochon in half horizontally and place it on top of the onions. If your dish is larger than the size of the cheese, you may want to break it up a bit to help with even melting throughout the dish.
- Repeat with the rest of potatoes, then the onion mixture and finally top with the other half of the Reblochon with the rind facing upwards.
- Cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
- Tartiflette is best eaten hot with a crisp glass of dry white wine or a Red Gamay from the Savoie and a simple green salad. Though like most cheese dishes making it a day in advance will help increase the flavours even more.
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