One French dish I’ve not made is Tartiflette. It’s a kind of issues that you just tuck into after a day of snowboarding down alps, which I did once with a household of knowledgeable skiers, realizing too late that my intermediate-level of snowboarding was no match for my associates, who pointed their skis straight down the highest of the alps and took off. I attempted my greatest to maintain up, however regardless of the spectacular surroundings (and dizzying heights), I spotted my abilities had been higher within the kitchen than on slopes, particularly in comparison with a French household of élite-level skiers.
For those who go to road gala’s, markets, or village festivals, and different down-to-earth locations in France, you’ll discover it made in big vats and offered in barquettes (containers) for folks to take residence and reheat, or to get pleasure from at communal wood tables with glasses of crisp white wine from the Savoie.
However Tartiflette straightforward to make at residence. And once I noticed a recipe in Chez Lesley, a terrific new cookbook from my good friend Lesley Chesterman I made a decision it was time to make it. Lesley spent years because the eating critic for the Montreal Gazette earlier than embarking upon writing her e-book, which couldn’t have come out at a greater time, once we’re all on the lookout for sturdy classics. Lesley’s unique profession path was to be a ballet dancer. However when she realized that wasn’t going to occur, because of an harm, she determined to turn into a pastry chef, coaching in Montreal (the place she’s from), after which, in France. A actuality test (getting a foul case of the measles in France, being in a foul automobile accident, and working like a dog as a baker), Lesley pivoted to turn into a meals author and restaurant critic.
I met Lesley some twenty years in the past in Montreal, when she took me and a good friend to an area sugar shack, the place menu gadgets characteristic maple syrup tapped from the timber simply exterior. For somebody like me, who loves maple syrup, it was heaven. They even had pitchers of maple syrup on the tables, in case you wished so as to add extra to what was already served. (Which I did!) So my reminiscences of Lesley have all the time been candy.
Lesley spent lots of time consuming fancy meals in her profession as a eating critic, however what she wished to do after she left her publish was to write down was a e-book of recipes anybody would really feel comfy making at residence. Her e-book, Chez Lesley, written in French, displays that with the fundamentals coated; crème caramel, crème brûlée, maple-pecan sablés (French butter cookies, with a nod to her Canadian roots), cinnamon brioche, and a chocolate “mégamousse,” served in an outsized bowl, as they do in eating places in France. The savory aspect is equally represented with worldwide favorites like Flammekueke (Alsatian flatbread topped with smoked bacon and cream), Soupe a l’oignon (French onion soup), and an “specific” Bolognese. In different phrases, all of the stuff you need to eat, with straightforward, do-able recipes.
Since winter is upon us, and snow is predicted this weekend, it appeared the time was proper to make Tartiflette. Whereas it’s thought of a conventional French dish, based on the Reblochon website, Tartiflette is predicated on one more dish from the Savoie, referred to as Péla. Péla is made with fried potatoes and Tartiflette – I assume in a nod to being more healthy – usually makes use of boiled or steamed potatoes.
One factor you do need to use thicker-cut bacon batons sometimes utilized in French cooking referred to as lardons, or alumettes in the event that they’re thinner. You should purchase thick-cut bacon and simply lower it into batons or strips. But when that’s not attainable, simply lower your bacon strips into bigger items earlier than cooking. I had just a few sorts and thickness of bacon available so I blended ’em up for this one. But it surely’s all good. It’s bacon.
Talking of “available,” I’m nonetheless within the “use what’s you’ve received” mode. Reblochon is a semi-soft cheese that’s used for Tartiflette, however you’ll see people utilizing different semi-soft cheeses. (Reblochon is apparently illegal within the U.S.) There are even unnamed cheeses (above) in France that are supposed to be used for Tartiflette, however don’t have an official appellation. In her recipe, Lesley makes use of Oka, a cheese that’s extensively out there in Canada, as a result of she stated Reblochon is “insanely costly” the place she lives.
As scrumptious as cheeses like cheddar, Emmenthal, Comté, and Gruyère are, they received’t soften the identical means as a semi-soft cheese will. I used Fromager d’Affinois which I had at the back of my fridge because of a cooking challenge I labored on a month or so in the past. It didn’t fairly get as melty and gooey as softer cheeses do, however it tasted nice. I’m additionally a kind of individuals who prefers crisp cheese to runny, so it wasn’t an issue.
Don’t get held on a particular kind of potato. If unsure, do what the French do and hit your native market and ask the seller which is greatest. You need a potato that’s extra for risollée (for frying) moderately than for purée (mashed potatoes). Yellow potatoes, like waxy Yukon golds, are usually a very good guess. In France, Roseval, Monalisa, or Belle de Fontenay are alternatives. French botanist Henry de Vilmorin cataloged 631 styles of potatoes in France again in 1881. So there are a lot to select from!
Lesley’s model is heavy on the bacon (these Canadians!) and French folks don’t often don’t favor crisp bacon. Right here, the thought isn’t to petrify the bacon, however to prepare dinner it and maintain it moist. Tartiflette is a kind of French dishes that’s deceptively easy, with only a few substances, however deeply satisfying. I serve it with an enormous winter salad of sturdy, assertive greens which may embrace escarole, frisée, kale, radicchio, watercress, or Belgian endive.
Servings 6 servings
- 2 1/2 kilos (1,1kg) potatoes, peeled
- 12 ounces (350g) lardons, (thick-cut bacon lower crosswise into batons)
- 1 massive onion, peeled and diced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 3 tablespoons dry white wine or vermouth
- freshly floor black pepper
- 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
- 1 pound (450g) Reblochon or one other semi-soft cheese, sliced about 1/2- to three/4-inch thick (1,5-2cm)
Butter a 2-quart (2l) gratin or baking dish. Carry a big pot of evenly salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and prepare dinner the potatoes at a low boil till a paring knife inserted into the middle meets no resistance, about 12 to fifteen minutes. You need them absolutely cooked by way of however keep away from overcooking them. Drain the potatoes and put aside.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Put the bacon items in a chilly skillet. Carry the warmth as much as medium-high and prepare dinner, stirring often, till the bacon items are nearly crisp. (If essential, add a little bit of olive oil in case your bacon does not have fairly sufficient fats to maintain it from sticking.) Drain the bacon onto a paper towel-covered plate.
Take away many of the bacon fats from the pan, leaving just a few teaspoons remaining for frying the onion. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and prepare dinner, stirring often, till the onions are utterly cooked and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Flip off the warmth and add the wine or vermouth to deglaze the pan, scraping the underside of the pan to launch any browned bits.
Slice the potatoes and 1/2 – 3/4-inch (1,5-2cm) slices and lay half of them in a single layer within the baking dish. Season very evenly with salt (the cheese and bacon will add a good quantity of salt) and freshly floor black pepper. Strew half of the onion combination over the potatoes and half of the bacon.
Prepare the remaining half of the potatoes in a single layer within the baking dish, season with salt and pepper, then end with the remaining onions and bacon. Dribble the cream excessive, then cowl with the slices of cheese in a single layer. Bake on the center rack of the oven till the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about half-hour. Serve sizzling.
Enjoyable truth: The Tartiflette recipe from the official Reblochon website says, “You may add…white wine…and a splash of crème fraîche (cream)…” so these are variable and based on them, aren’t required in Tartiflette. Simply in case you are questioning.