After this week’s experiment with Bajan Sweet Potato, I’m continuing the potato theme in this blog – specifically Tartiflette. This dish brings together the classic cheese and potato combination in a very French way.
Last year we visited Clermont-Ferrand and tried Aligot, a smooth and creamy local speciality which is perfect for a cold winter’s evening. I love recipes like this. They have familiar ingredients – I’m sure I remember my mum providing something with the same flavour palette to sustain us when we went camping. They are made with local pride and passed on from generation to generation even though, done well, they can be quite elaborate and time consuming in the preparation. They are practical – these tend to reflect the environment of the region. The cheese is the indication of their origin and in this case Reblochon is a soft cheese made from the raw milk of cows enjoying a view of the Alps from Haut-Savoie. I can imagine a group of skiers holed up by a blizzard in a ski lodge tucking in to a big tray of this. Finally it demonstrates the French love and respect for cheese. Matt Feroze describes it beautifully in his The Cheese and I. He describes the care and time in production but also in developing the flavour in the cheese during storage and even in the cutting and serving.
This love and care is demonstrated in the way the Reblochon was transported from France by my daughter. In the house where they are staying they have Tupperware cheese boxes which fit a round of cheese and have a plug to allow the cheese to breathe. I didn’t even know such things exist!
The recipe involves bacon, onion, Reblochon, creme fraiche and oil. There is then a long bake which softens the potato and allows the cheese to melt into a gooey consistency. The whole thing should not have too much liquid as it goes into the potatoes. It has a light golden crispy top. It’s a meal in itself served with pickles and bread – it’s like a rustic fondue.
The sound when the dish comes to the table is something to behold.