Tartiflette, or Potato, Cheese and Bacon Gratin

Recipes for certain dishes I am particularly fond of were posted when my blog was read (hopefully) mainly by my family, friends and hardly any food bloggers. Sometimes I think it would be a good idea to dig them out, especially those which appear frequently on my table. When a couple of weeks ago Charles, from Five Euro Food, told me he hadn’t baked or tasted tartiflette yet, I have decided to share again with him and with all my blogging friends this recipe for one of my favourite dinners, ideal for chilly Autumn and Winter evenings.

The name “tartiflette” comes from the word “tartifla”, meaning “potato” in the dialect from Savoy, an Alps French region. This dish has quite a short, but a very intensive history. In fact, instead of being a traditional recipe transferred through generations of mountain dwellers (like many Frenchmen and foreigners believe), it was cleverly created in the 80s in order to promote reblochon, a soft washed-rind aged cheese from Savoy. Actually, even the Savoy inhabitants have now accepted the tartiflette as a part of their culinary heritage.

Luckily, not the history, but the taste is here of course the crucial point, and tartiflette can only be described as irresistible. Several layers of sliced potatoes covered with fried bacon and onions, topped with generous chunks of reblochon, everything baking in a sauce created by cream, white wine and melting cheese… (Have I mentioned the crusty cheese rind on the top?) I haven’t met yet anyone who doesn’t like it. At the same time it is incredibly easy and, if you already have cooked potatoes, it is also very quick. I remember I have based my recipe, reading several different ones found on internet, but basically it’s always more or less the same.

If you don’t live in France or in its proximity, the only problem might be getting the reblochon. I think that any other good quality, not industrially made, ripe, soft washed-rind cheese is worth giving a try. (Oh, and if it’s very smelly, made with raw-milk and close to or past its expiration date, it would be perfect!) It will, hopefully, at least behave similarly in the oven, melting into the cream and wine mixture and producing a thick creamy sauce. Aprémont is a Savoy wine advised to use and drink with tartiflette, but any dry sturdy white wine can be used instead.

TIP: Drinking wine is almost obligatory here! It makes the dish feel lighter (I am not joking!).

Before I pass to the recipe, I would love to proudly announce that I have just received a Versatile Blogger Award from Karen, the author of Back Road Journal. I am flattered and honoured! Saying 7 random things about oneself is the main rule of the Award. Since I have been nominated to this award some time ago (I didn’t know Karen at the time) and the random facts about me haven’t changed, I thought I would link to them (click here) for all those who haven’t read them and who are curious. Thank you so much Karen! I am very happy I have met you!

Special equipment:

individual baking dishes are not obligatory, but the result looks much better and it’s easier to serve

Preparation: 1 hour

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

1 whole  big reblochon cheese (about 450g) or another good quality, ripe, soft washed-rind cheese

1kg big potatoes

150 ml cream

200 g smoked bacon in small cubes

2 big onions

20 cl Aprémont or another strong white dry wine

salt, pepper

oil for frying

Cook the potatoes. Let them cool down a bit, peel them and slice them thinly.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Chop the onions and the bacon. Fry them both (together or separately) until the bacon is a bit crunchy and the onion has softened.

In individual baking dishes (or a big one if you don’t have those) put a layer of sliced potatoes, cover with the mixture of bacon and onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue like this finishing with a potato layer (I usually make three potato layers and two bacon-onion ones).

Cut the reblochon in two parts, so that you obtain two thin circles, each covered with rind on one side.

Cut each thin circle in several big chunks and arrange them on top of the individual dishes, rind side up.

Pour the cream and the white wine on top of the gratin and bake it (about 20 minutes) until it is golden.

Serve it piping hot with a lightly seasoned green salad and white white, sturdy enough to support the strong taste of cheese and bacon.