Friday, 23 May 2014

Tartiflette - a gratin of potatoes, onions, bacon and cheese

I got the idea to make this from a recent visit to Normandy in France. We'd stopped for lunch at a small bistro and I chose the Gratin Maison from the menu. I was well aware of what a gratin was but wasn't sure what the 'maison' bit would entail so was a bit apprehensive, especially as the menu contained some unusual specialties such as 'salade de gesiers' (gizzard salad) which, I'm sure is delicious, but wasn't really something I fancied just at that point!

When my meal arrived I was delighted that it didn't contain anything I didn't recognise and it tasted divine - a deliciously rich, creamy mixture of potatoes, onions, bacon and cheese, which I discovered later is called tartiflette. I think the bistro had added their own local cheese rather than traditional Reblochon, hence the 'maison' bit in the name.

Tartiflette comes from the Alpine region of France where hungry skiers eat it by the bucket load in winter - it's so rich and calorie-laden that I'm sure it's perfect for restoring the energy expended during a hard session on the slopes. It's very much considered a cold-weather food and I agree it isn't something to be eaten on a really hot day but it didn't feel out of place eating it on a mild afternoon in May.

This is a really easy dish to make - it's simply a case of boiling some potatoes, frying an onion with some bacon then layering it with cheese and cream in an oven-proof dish and baking it in the oven for half an hour or so. It's gorgeous served with a simple green salad and/or some French bread to mop up the creamy sauce.

I'd love to hear about other places you've eaten tartiflette so please feel free to share and leave a comment!

Tartiflette Recipe

Notes: The recipe below details how I made my tartiflette but this is very much a dish where you can add as much or as little of anything you like. More cream and cheese will give a softer dish with lots of sauce, use less and the dish will be drier and firmer.

I think the addition of Reblochon cheese gives tartiflette its distinctive French flavour and I was delighted to find it in my local supermarket but, if you'd like to make tartiflette and can't get hold of Reblochon, I'm sure Camembert would work just as well or, at a push, Brie. 

The white wine adds extra flavour but is optional.

Serves 3 as a main course with salad.

1.5kg potatoes
1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
180g smoked bacon lardons
50ml white wine (optional)
100ml double cream
200g Reblochon cheese
1 garlic clove
salt and pepper

1. Peel and slice the potatoes thickly and boil in salted water for 8-10 minutes, until tender but not too soft.

2. Meanwhile, fry the onion in the oil for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften then add the lardons. Fry until the onions are soft and golden and the lardons are cooked but take care not to burn them.

3. Add the white wine to the onions and bacon if using and allow it to sizzle for a minute or two until most of the white wine has evaporated then add the cream and stir together. Add salt and pepper if required.

4. Slice the cheese.

5. Rub the garlic clove around the inside of an oven proof dish for extra flavour then start to layer the tartiflette by placing a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the dish, followed by a layer of the onion, bacon and cream mixture and then half the cheese. Repeat finishing with the final half of the cheese on top of the dish.

6. Place in a preheated oven at 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4 for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden.

Bon Appetit!

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