If you live in the Alpine (meaning - actual Alps) Haute-Savoie region, you get to ingest a lot of hearty food, quite often based around cheese. I don't see this as a bad thing, but then, I'm not lactose-intolerant. Cheese Fondue, Pizza Tartiflette, Raclette, oh... and this particular recipe that follows.
Now, for the life of me, I have NO idea why I have never thought to attempt Tartiflette myself, but have always bought it, frozen, in a bag and just sorta re-heated the stuff either in a frying pan on the stove, or dumped into a casserole, and heated until done dish in the oven.
Tartifle means potato in the Savoyard dialect. The actual dish Tartiflette, features a raw milk, semi-pressed cheese (that resembles Brie in appearance) plus said tartifles or potatoes. According to a Haute-Savoie site:
"Tartiflette cheese is produced in the Grand Bornand, the Aravis and the Clusaz regions. There is a long history behind this cheese. In the 13th century the farmers rented their mountain pastures and paid the owners according to the quantity of milk produced. Thus, on the day the owner visited the pasture to collect the rent the farmers would only partially milk their cows. A second milking produced a very rich fatty milk, which in turn was used to make the Reblochon cheese. ‘Re-blocher’ means ‘milk a second time’."
Well, the other night I saw a block of Reblochon 'Tartiflette cheese' at Leclerc, thought about it a bit, then decided the cheese, potatoes and other ingredients cost about half what the frozen package costs, plus it would make a lot more. And in these rather difficult economic times, we have to eat as cheaply, but as healthy, as possible. And look! There's a recipe on the back of the cheese pack! Cool.
So, I bought the less-expensive Leclerc brand and gathered the other things I needed.
Of course, any recipe is just some sort of starting place, as far as I'm concerned. So, I changed it, a bit.
Older daughter doesn't care too much for Reblochon, so she gets the Mozzarella covered bit. Clean potato skins are full of fibre plus add a bit of texture, so, I did not peel the potatoes. Many recipes call for cream or leave it or the wine out entirely. For me, the crème fraîche and white wine addition added a real lushness. I mean, I can microwave a jacket potato and cover it in melted cheese and bacon. If we are going to the trouble of making a dish, let's go all the way! Allons-z!
1 1/2 kg potatoes (3lbs) scrubbed well and sliced thickly
2 large onions, peeled and finely diced200 g lardons fumé or smoked streaky bacon, diced (8 ozs)
25 g butter (1 oz)
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced or squished150ml (5 ounces) white wine (1 wine glass... ish)
1 small 25cl (8 oz) container crème fraîche or sour cream
fresh ground black pepper
1 ripe (if possible) Reblochon cheese (500g) or Crémier de Chaumes, Epoisses or even Brie.
2 balls of fresh Mozzarella 125g each (8-10 oz total) or the equivalent in shredded. Or use Pizza cheese mix.
Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes until just fork tender, approximately 10-15 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 5.
Sauté the onion and bacon in the butter in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat until the onion is soft and sweated, but not browned.
Add the garlic and stir that into the onions and bacon. You want to just cook the garlic until it becomes soft and fragrant. At that point, add the white wine, the creme fraîche and mix well.
Place the sliced potatoes across the base of an oven-proof dish, either earthenware or Pyrex, (I used a Lasagne dish) then season the potatoes with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and pour over the onion/bacon/crème fraîche mixture.
Cut the Reblochon cheese in half so you end up with two rounds, and place them cut sides down over the potatoes/bacon/etc. Sprinkle the grated Mozzarella or cut-up fresh Mozza balls into the spaces where the Reblochon rounds don't reach..
Bake for 10 minutes in that pre-heated oven, then reduce the heat to 180C/350’F/gas mark 4 for a further 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
Serve with crusty baguette, a bit of green salad and some cornichons. A glass of that white wine wouldn't go amiss either.