Tartiflette has been listed as Google’s top recipe search for France. So what is tartiflette and is the rest of the world going to jump on the bandwagon?
First of all, you might be surprised to learn that tartiflette — marketed as a traditional mountain meal — is a new dish, created as recently as 1980 by the association responsible for promoting Reblochon cheese. Reblochon is an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) cheese, so it can only be made in certain areas of Savoie and Haute Savoie in France.
The idea was to increase the dwindling sales of Reblochon cheese by creating a dish that everyone would love. Based on the traditional recipe of péla (potatoes, cheese and onion cooked in a frying pan), tartiflette has lardons (similar to small pieces of bacon) added, and is cooked in an oven.
Local restaurants embraced this easy-to-make recipe and Reblochon sales picked up. Now, tartiflette is so popular that cheese companies have started producing “cheese for tartiflette”, as a cheap alternative to Reblochon: it can be produced anywhere in France because it avoids using “Reblochon” on the packaging.
Some restaurants cater for vegetarians by offering tartiflette without the lardons (vegetarians should note that rennet is used in Reblochon production). Another popular menu item is tartichevre (tartiflette made with goat’s cheese instead) and other varieties that include everything from local mushrooms to berries. There’s also croziflette, made with the local pasta called crozet (instead of potatoes), tartiflette pizzas, and more. A French friend introduced me to his very own tartitart — tartiflette encased in a pie crust before baking, presumably because he loves pastry (and it was delicious).
Will the rest of the world embrace tartiflette the way all of France has? Time will tell, but word seems to be spreading: I noticed it on a few menus in Melbourne last time I was home. Has it appeared on a menu near you?
1 kg potatoes (any firm/waxy variety)
200g lardons (or smoked bacon)
2 large onions, sliced
1 large, ripe Reblochon (around 450-500g)
2 tablespoons oil
a dash of wine (if desired – 100ml maximum)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6 or 7)
- Peel the potatoes, dice and rinse, then wipe with a clean cloth.
- Add oil to a frying pan and heat the onions until they turn clear.
- Add the potatoes and brown them.
- Add the bacon and wine and stir through the pan, then remove from heat after a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Hold the Reblochon upright, like a wheel, and cut in half, creating two wheels.
- Pour the potato mix to the gratin dish.
- Place the two Reblochon halves on top, with the crust facing down.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes.
The dish is usually served with:
- a simple green salad;
- a bowl of small gherkins and cocktail onions; and,
- a plate of cured meat.