Tartiflette taken from "Back in the Saddle"

Hayden Groves

Hayden Groves

18th December 2017

Tartiflette taken from "Back in the Saddle"

This popular dish from the Haute-Savoie was as I’ve recently discovered a clever marketing ploy dreamed up by those cunning Reblochon producers in the early 1980s, a cheeky way to shift more of their cheese. It certainly worked.

The birth of this fascinating cheese is due to the ingenuity of the Savoie herdsmen. In the 13th century, the farmers were dependent on the landowners who insisted that all the herd's milk was their property. Come milking time, the herdsmen did not quite complete the milking. When the controllers left, the herdsmen finished the milking. They "Re-Blochaient"; which translated literally means 'to pinch a cow's udder again) from this the cheese was named Reblochon, made with the creamy milk of the second milking.

The cheese rind turns an orange-yellow and is aged sandwiched between two thin pine discs, scenting the cheese with a delicate characteristic woodiness, the finished cheese has a pleasing velvety texture which is much revered.

The Tartiflette is a potato gratin deluxe, and the local way to refuel after a day of going up and down mountains, either on a bike or during the winter when skiers descend après ski like a barbarian hoard removing uncomfortable ski boots and several layers of clothing in haste to find a place at the table.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg waxy Charlotte potatoes, skins left on and washed
  • 50g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 250g smoked bacon lardons
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 250g crème fraiche
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 x 500g Reblochon cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic peeled and cut in half
  • black pepper

Method

Boil the potatoes in well-salted water until just tender. Drain well and leave to cool.
Rub an ovenproof gratin dish with the cut garlic all over, then smear thoroughly with a little softened butter and set aside.
Melt 20g of the butter in a frying pan and sauté the bacon until the fat starts to render. Add the onions and cook until soft and both are just beginning to brown.
Add approximately ¾ of the white wine, bring to a simmer, and reduce by half.
Turn off the heat and stir in the crème fraiche and the chives.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Cut the potatoes into 1cm slices, Heat the remaining butter in a large frying pan and sauté the potatoes until a light golden colour; season with black pepper.
Cut the Reblochon cheese carefully in half horizontally, score the rind of one half in a pattern with a sharp knife, and dice the other half.
Mix the sautéed potatoes with the bacon and crème fraiche mixture, and carefully add the diced Reblochon. Spoon into gratin dish and top with the remaining Reblochon half, scored rind upwards. Splash the remaining wine over the cheese and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until browned and bubbling.
Serve hot from the oven with a green salad, pickles and charcuterie. Crusty bread and a glass of dry white wine is a must

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