Sam from 3 Vallées Cuisine gives the lowdown on how to create the local delicacy – Tartiflette.
With a short list of hearty ingredients, Tartiflette is an iconic Savoyard dish that features regularly in local restaurants. But did you know that it’s a relatively recent invention? Here’s the story of how of a local cheese with declining sales found its way into the kitchens of nearly every mountain restaurant in the Savoie region…
Ancient ingredients, new recipe
Reblochon cheese, which gives tartiflette its unctuous flavour and glorious golden crust, originates from the 13th century. In the days when Savoyard farmers had to give the first milking away to their masters in the local abbey, they would stealthily milk the cows for a second time at night, which yielded higher fat milk. This milk was used to make Reblochon, a deliciously creamy cheese which melts beautifully.
Reblochon celebrated its 60th anniversary of becoming an ‘AOP’ (Appellation d’Origine Protegée) in 2018. Despite its long history, with the rise of Nouvelle Cuisine in the 1960s and the popularity of a healthier, fresher way of cooking, sales of this rustic fromage began to decline.
In the 1980s the Reblochon marketing board got to work. Inspired by a traditional potato and cheese dish called ‘Péla’ which was cooked in local village bread ovens, the recipe developers added bacon, onions, garlic and a slosh of white wine and called their new dish ‘tartiflette’ after the local Savoyard word for potato: ‘tartifla’.
Tartiflette is a great recipe if you’re self-catering on your ski holiday as it’s not too complicated, is quite quick to prepare and you can enjoy a drink with your friends whilst you wait for it to finish off in the oven. It’s also a good one to cook back home as reblochon survives travel relatively well and lasts quite a while in the fridge. Just make sure to wrap it well before you stash it away in your suitcase!
Tartiflette for 4 hungry skiers
- 1 Reblochon cheese
- 1kg potatoes (a firm, waxy variety)
- 200g lardons fumé (smoked bacon strips)
- 2 onions
- 1 clove of garlic
- A small glass of white wine – perhaps a local Apremont
- To season: pepper and ground nutmeg if you like it
- Peel and slice the onions
- Peel the potatoes and chop into 1-2cm cubes
- In a large frying pan, fry the lardons with the onions until golden
- Add the cubed potatoes and gently cook for about 15-20 minutes
- Add the glass of wine and let that reduce down for about 5 minutes
- Add a grind of pepper and a pinch of nutmeg
- Cut the Reblochon across the middle so that you are left with two discs
- Chop one of these discs into cubes
- Peel the garlic and rub it over the inside of an oven-proof baking dish
- Add the potato mixture and the cubed Reblochon
- The other disc of Reblochon will form the crust of your tartiflette. You can leave it whole or cut it into 2 or 4 pieces to fit your dish.
- Once the Reblochon is on top, put the baking dish into the oven at 180 (fan) or 200, or gas mark 6-7 and leave for 15-20 minutes to turn golden.
To balance the rich flavours, tartiflette is usually served with dressed green leaves. If you can get hold of a few walnuts then sprinkle these onto your salad. Not only do they complement the dish beautifully, but apparently they help reduce cholesterol which can only be a good thing when you’re eating tartiflette!