Classic French cooking made easy.
There are three national cuisines which I am totally in love with, Greek (as if you hadn’t guessed), Italian (who isn’t?) and of course French. Though I may have made the odd joke about the French here and there they do make some the best food in Europe, which is saying something for a continent full of gastronomes! Whilst I throw in a Greek or Italian recipe every so often I haven’t cooked a really good classic-French recipe (and then posted about it here) for a while so I thought it was high-time I dug out the old French cookbooks to see what’s what.
And after looking through my Elizabeth David cookbook I reverted to type, switched on the TV and saw an episode of James Martin’s Home Comforts where he happened to make a great bit of French cooking, the Tartiflette. I wasn’t familiar with this dish before I saw the episode, but it looks (and when I cooked it, tastes) really similar to the classic Au Gratin which you may be more familiar with as it is often served as a side dish in restaurants up and down the UK.
What makes a Tartiflette a Tartiflette? Read on.
Well I had to look this one up as my copy of Elizabeth David’s French Country Cooking didn’t seem to have it, unless I’m going blind! Basically it is what often (rather disparagingly) called ‘peasant’ food. It comes from the Haute Savoie region which borders Italy and Switzerland, with all those cold and mountainous areas it’s no wonder they came up with really rich foods like this.
So what’s in it?
Basically it comes down to four ingredients (making it a quick and easy one to make as well), Lardons (or bacon if that’s all you can get), Onions, Potatoes and reblochon cheese, try finding that in the local Morrisons. Like any recipe which has been around for years there are dozens of variations on this recipe, some add cream, some garlic and others replace the lardons with salmon. I’m going to share the version I made, there may be purists who look and say I did something wrong but Hana and I liked it, and at the end of the day that’s what matters.
What you’ll need for four people:
100g butter, plus a little extra for the top and serving
A handful of fresh thyme
1 bulb of garlic + 2 extra colves
200g bacon lardons
1 reblochon or camembert cheese
Green salad to serve
Tartiflette: how to
Preheat your oven 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Wash the potatoes and then boil them whole for around 10 minutes. They should be softened but not fully boiled.
Chop the shallots and a couple of cloves of garlic, then gently fry them with the thyme and lardons in a knob or butter till softened but not golden. Then remove from the heat.
Drain the potatoes and let them cool a little till you can handle them. Once cool enough cut into 5mm slices.
Cut the garlic bulb across the inside of an ovenproof dish, really try and get that garlicky flavour around the dish. Using your hands smear the inside of the dish with butter, this will make it easier to get out when cooked.
Layer the onions on the bottom of the dish then top with the lardons. Layer the potatoes in concentric circles working from outside to inside and building up as you go. Cut on any rind or wax and place your cheese on top in the centre and chop the remaining butter over the top and season with a touch of black pepper.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or so, it should be nice and golden on top when cooked.
Serve in big slices with an undressed green salad and a nice crisp Chablis. Perfect!