Monday, September 24, 2007

WFD? Tartiflette: French Comfort Food

What is more comforting than the combination of cheese and potatoes? In the cooler months here in Canada, I can't think of anything. For this exquisite marriage of the two, I have to hand it to the French; they really, really know how to make one's tummy smile.

Tartiflette before baking...
Tartiflette after baking.

It’s was Valli over at More than Burnt Toast, who has been singing the praises of the humble potato recently, who inspired me to finally try out this French potato dish. For a while now I’ve had the recipe (which came in a flyer from the local liquor store!) but put off making it because it always seemed like a cooler weather dish to me.

Fortunately, I didn’t wait too long because it was fantastic! Imagine: fresh potatoes with some sautéed onions and slab bacon, a dash of white wine, and thick cream; all topped with an entire round of tangy, rich cheese and baked slowly until the cream bubbles up and the cheese oozes out.

A glorified scalloped potato? Perhaps, but absolutely over-the-top delicious. It reminded me a bit of raclette, another French meal where you melt Raclette cheese under a tabletop grill and scrape it onto boiled potatoes and various other morsels. Of course, this is like the casserole version (hate that word) and I can imagine it making an ideal apres-ski feast.

Wait a minute. Was I just wishing for snow for a second? Really, this pregnancy is doing funny things to my head!


Noah and I dug these fresh spuds up from the garden and the taste of them was a real reminder that homegrown potatoes really are a step above anything you can buy, no matter how fresh. Funnily enough,these beauties popped up uninvited as a result of some random potato from the compost going to seed. Thank goodness they did!

Next year I plan on planting a whole plot of potatoes...I'll need them for all the tartiflette I'll be making!

If you are unable to locate the traditional Reblochon cheese (I couldn't), substitute another semi-soft, cow's milk cheese that is creamy, but with a bite to it!

Valli, this recipe is for you.

Tartiflette

1 ¾ lb Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
150 g blanched lardons or slab bacon
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white wine
1 pinch nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
¾ cup 35% cream
1 small wheel Reblochon cheese (240g)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook the potatoes in salted water until tender, but still slightly firm in the center. Drain, cool and cut into cubes.
In a skillet, lightly brown the lardons. Add the onion and continue cooking for two minutes. Deglaze with white wine. Let reduce by half.

Add the cubed potatoes, nutmeg and pepper. Mix well. Pour into a lightly buttered ovenproof casserole. Drizzle the cream over the top. Remove the rind from the bottom of the cheese and lightly scratch the top rind of the cheese. Place the cheese rind up on the potato mixture.

Bake on the lowest rack in the oven for 40 -45 minutes.
Serve immediately.

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