Some years ago, when I was still at a very early stage of learning French food, I was brought to a restaurant in France that specialises in Savoie cuisine. Savoie is a French department located in the Rhône-Alpes region in the French Alps. I would describe Savoie food as very cheesy, rich and satisfying. Tartiflette is one of the dishes that I ordered when I first went to the restaurant.
An amazingly tasty and satisfying dish that is made only with potatoes, Reblochon cheese, crème fraîche and lardons. Some people put onions too. Reblochon cheese is really the star of this dish!
A friend of us who is from Savoie, once told me the history of Reblochon cheese. Reblochon comes from the verb reblocher, which literally means ‘to squeeze cow’s udder again’.
In the 14th century, farmers were taxed according to the amount of milk yield. In order to avoid paying too much taxes, the farmers would not fully milk the cows. After the taxman had counted the yield, the farmers would milk the cows for the second time, which the remaining milk is much richer and suitable to make into cheese. So, that was how Reblochon cheese was born!
Reblochon cheese is quite smelly. It’s creamy and rich. It’s the only cheese that can be used in making Tartiflette. Thus, a very special cheese. I have chosen to use Maris Piper potatoes.
For me, this is a winter dish that is easy to make and undoubtedly a satisfying dish! I like to give a bit of extra crunch, so I set the oven to grill to give that tiny bit crispy layer of cheese on the top.
As I’m writing this, I long for a good hot bath, put on my comfy clothes. Then, start making Tartiflette for dinner! Even though I am not in the Alps, but I believe the smell and taste of Tartiflette will virtually bring me to one of those ski resorts on the Alps.
Yield: 3-4 persons
5-6 fluffy potatoes, peeled
3-4 heaped tbsp crème fraîche
200g - 250g Reblochon cheese, halves
a pinch of salt
1. Pre-heat the oven at 180°C. Meanwhile, in a big saucepan, bring water to the boil, put in the salt and add the potatoes. Boil for about 8 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool. When it's cold enough to handle, roughly slice the potatoes and put aside.
2. In a frying pan over medium heat, put the pancetta and fry for about 3-4 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from heat.
3. In a baking dish (I used in 20cm x 14cm), arrange the potatoes to cover the surface of the baking dish. Then, add the pancetta. Layer with more potatoes then add the crème fraîche. Make sure it is well distributed. Finally, top with Reblochon cheese. Put in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt. Once cooked, set to grill for 5 minutes to get the crunchy cheese payer if desired.