“In Tartiflette We Trust”
“In Tartiflette We Trust” is a motto that has become really popular in the last decade, and, as I later found out, it’s actually the slogan of a mountain and ski gear shop in the French Alps. You can now spot stickers and people wearing “In Tartiflette We Trust” t-shirts all over France, even beyond! I have to say, this is a motto by which I can abide!
To me, the simple mention of Tartiflette evokes winter, crisp snow, ski, holiday, flattering ski goggle tan, evenings eating and drinking your heart’s content (It’s freezing outside, you need padding!) and playing cards etc. Aaah, good times!
So when at the end of last year, I received an e-mail from food & wine writer Michael Shafran (aka Gosstronomy) asking bloggers/twitterers for some family recipes from our homelands for his new project “The Melting Pot“, my mind was soon made up. The recipe didn’t have to be complicated, as long as it meant something for us, and my mum’s Tartiflette, the ultimate comfort dish, fit the brief perfectly!
As a French person born in the Jura mountain, the country of Comté, Mont d’Or and Vin jaune, it is fair to say I’m partial to all things cheese! Later my family moved in the Alps region, which also has its share of delicious cheeses. Amongst those is the famous Reblochon, whose name comes “Reblocher”, meaning “Milk a cow a second time”, a practice from the 14th century, when farmers had to pay a tax on their milk yield: they didn’t milk the cow entirely, so that they pay less tax and the extra milk obtained later was even richer and ideal to make cheese. The result was a washed-rind smear-ripened cheese, very soft and creamy inside: the Reblochon.
As a student freshly debarked from the nest in the “big city” (I thought Grenoble was pretty big at the time!), I relished coming home to my parents to get pampered and fattened up! Winters can be quite rough in France, and there is nothing quite like a cheesy dish to warm your bones and recover from the cold outside. Alongside the Raclette and the Fondue, the Tartiflette, a Savoyard potato gratin, is a winter’s big favourite and my mother would prepare it for me all the time. It is a simple but deadly efficient dish: potatoes, onions, cream, lardons and half a Reblochon wheel, simply placed on top of the potatoes in the oven to obtain a gooey and crispy goodness running through the whole dish…. Deeply comforting and decadent.
Unfortunately Reblochon can’t be imported in Australia as it is made from raw milk (shake head), which has put me in a state of despair for a long time, until I found the pasteurized version at Simon Johnson, a 500g beast named “Douceur du Jura” (Sweetness of the Jura). It’s not quite as pungent as the real deal, but it does the trick nicely!*
*PS: It’s not cheap though ($43.30/500g)!
For 4 people:
- 1kg potatoes
- 1 onion
- 150g lardons (= bacon, thinly diced)
- 100ml cream
- 1 Reblochon-type of cheese (could work quite well with raclette, fontina, gruyère, Swiss cheese, Pont l’Évêque, if you can’t get your hands on or don’t want to splurge on Douceur du Jura.)
- Optional: a splash of dry white wine
- Optional: not in the original recipe, but if you like garlic, a bit of thinly chopped garlic thrown in with the chopped onion tastes all right too! (I’m going to get killed by purists for saying that though)
Peel then chop the potatoes roughly, then put them in cold water on high heat for 15 minutes
Drain them, then chop them in smaller pieces.
Chop the onion and cook it in the pan with olive oil and butter for a few minutes, then add the thinly diced bacon
Add the potatoes to the pan until they are cooked but not golden
Pour the whole mixture into a baking dish, add the cream and a splash of dry white wine, salt and pepper.
Cut the wheel of cheese in half lengthwise, and place over the potatoes so that the crust is on top (here I used only half of the cheese, as it was a small baking dish, but we usually use the whole cheese, as you can see on the version my mother made for me a few weeks ago, right at the top of this page).
Put in the oven at high temperature (around 200-150 degrees) for 15 minutes, or depending on ovens, until the Reblochon crust is golden brown and crispy.
Enjoy with a nice green salad and a glass of wine!
The Melting Pot is the first major crowdsourced cookbook in Australia and aims at bringing readers delicious recipes representing all the different cultures and cuisines that can be found in Australia. “The Melting Pot” is now online and a printed version will also be published in 2013 by Murdoch Books.