Tartiflette. Don't you just love that name?
It is one of the many specialties of the Haute Savoie region in France, where cheese, cream and potatoes come together in that deliciously unhealthy way which categorizes French cooking, yet defies all logic. Be warned, you may have to book yourself a bed in the heart ward at hospital before eating or serving this dish.
Basically, it is a combination of potatoes, cream, bacon, onion and cheese, with a little white wine thrown in for good measure.
For my American readers, I have to say that this recipe is not "exactly" Tartiflette, on account of the cheese you need being banned by the FDA. The raw cows milk used to make Roblochon, in their opinion, may harm the consumer. The fact that millions of French men and women, and most of the rest of Europe eat cheese from raw cow's milk without any apparent harm, is not taken into consideration when creating these bans.
Reblochon comes from the word 'reblocher' which means a second milking.This refers to the practice of holding back some of the milk from the first milking. During the 14th century, the landowners would tax the mountain farmers according to the amount of milk their herds produced. The farmers would therefore not fully milk the cows until after the landowner had measured the yield. The milk that remains is much richer, hence that full creamy flavor.
So, the cheese I used is called Douceur de Jura, which is made the same way, but with the pasteurized milk instead. It can be bought on-line if you can't find it at your local cheese shop.
Lardons aren't easy to come by here either, so I use the bacon offcuts and cut them up into small cubes myself.
The potatoes you choose will have a different effect on the finished product. Waxy will result in a distinct layering and firmness, and floury will soak up the liquid and become more integrated in the dish. Either work. These are Yukon Gold (waxy) and were the best on offer on. the day.
Once they are on the go, I add the bacon/lardons to a pan. I add a little olive oil if there is little fat, so they get a little brown and crispy round the edges.
I remove the bacon/lardons, leaving the oil in the pan. I then saute the onions in the same pan so they take on the flavor and color.
I add the bacon back into the pan for a few minutes, then set to one side.
I then take the cooled potatoes and slice into thick rounds (pinky nail thick) and start the layering, potato layer first. You can use any vessel for this, as long as it is deep enough ( and oven proof) to hold at least 3 layers.
Potato, season, bacon mix, potato, season..... you get the drift. I pour on the heavy cream which has already been infused with the mashed garlic and about a 1/4 cup of white wine. This mix should come about half way up to the top layer. I then cap it with the cheese, which has been sliced in half (as shown). I only used half of the round for this dish, and have half stashed away for another feast later in the week
I served mine with some salad, cornichons and some incredible prosciutto from one of our friend's pigs. Thank you Porky.
You will need some crusty bread to enjoy the creamy scrumpciousness at the bottom of the dish. If this doesn't make you want to book a flight to France, nothing will.