Just the name “Tartiflette” makes people sigh with pleasure. A dish replete with melted cheese, crisp bacon, onions and potatoes, its very aroma evokes cold, sunny days on the ski slopes in the Haute Savoie of Eastern France. Anyone who has ever skied – or hiked or simply been very hungry – knows the moment you’ve removed your boots, washed up and settled into a supper that quells the immense hunger a day outdoors inspires. And tartiflette does the job, deliciously!
Tartiflette was originally called pela, after the long-handled, cast-iron pan it was cooked in. Intended as a dish to use up leftovers, the potatoes and onions were layered in the pan, the cheese put on top, and the whole was slid into the fire to bubble up and cook as edges crisped and tempted. Bacon is a recent addition, most likely it was too luxurious for the creators of the original dish. Today, however, a tartiflette wouldn’t have the name without it.
An Entire Reblochon
Today, an entire Reblochon cheese is used in the making of Tartiflette, indeed a luxury along with the bacon. A wonderfully pure, tender cheese, Reblochon is replete with the full flavor of milk from the Abondance, Montbeliard or Tarine cows that graze the slopes of the Savoie. And, you are right to think this is why it is so delicious, for the cheese’s perfume echoes the purity of the air, the flowers that bloom there throughout the warm season. It adds much to the dish BUT If you cannot find Reblochon, you can still make tartiflette. Try it raclette, or any tender cheese you love.
Even better, why not return to the origins of the dish and use all those cheese ends you’re not sure what to do with? After all, waste not want not is one way to look at it; another is that no matter what cheese you use to make tartiflette, it will win over everyone who eats it!
GOLDEN POTATOES WITH BACON, ONIONS AND MELTED CHEESE - PELA OR TARTIFLETTE
- 6 ounces; 180g smoked slab bacon, rind removed, cut in 1 x 1/4 x ¼ inch strips (2.5 x .63 x .63cm)
- 2 small (3.5 ounce; 105g each) onions, thinly sliced
- 1 pounds;1kg Reblochoor 1 pound (500g) Raclette chilled
- 2 waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Flat leaf parsley sprigs – for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
- Place the bacon and the onions in a large, oven proof skillet and cook over medium-high heat until the bacon and onions begin to turn dark golden, about 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Drain away all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, then add the butter and stir. Add the potatoes and stir so that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed in the skillet. Stir and shake the pan until the potatoes begin to brown, then reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and shaking the pan regularly.
- While the potatoes are cooking, cut the Reblochon crosswise in half. Slice one half through the center horizontally. Cut the other half into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes. If using Raclette, cut half of it into slices, and the remaining cheese into cubes. Return to the refrigerator.
- When the potatoes are tender, remove the pan from the heat and fold in the chilled cubes of Reblochon. Place the remaining Reblochon, cut side down, atop the potatoes.
- Bake until the Reblochon is completely melted and golden on top, about 20 minutes. If the cheese isn’t golden, turn on the broiler and broil the cheese until it turns golden, which will take 5 to 6 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, strew with some parsley sprigs, and serve immediately.