I recently returned from a fantastic two-week trip to Italy and France. It was the perfect holiday: the architecture and scenery were stunningly beautiful and I never tire of strolling the streets of European cities, window-shopping and people watching. And then, of course, there was the food.
We spent some time in Torino, Italy (more on that later) and then headed to Chamonix in the French Alps for a bit of skiing. The commune of Chamonix is located in the Haute-Savoie region, just across the border from Italy at the foot of Mont Blanc. The area is surrounded by mountains and has a vibrant scene in the evenings once everyone has retired from the slopes for the day.
The cuisine of the Alps is seasonally-based and includes local wines,cured meats and fantastic cheeses such as tomme, abondance, reblochon and raclette. Dining in Chamonix is typically casual and restaurants often feature fun communal dishes like raclette (a local cheese that is melted and scraped onto potatoes), fondue (both oil-based and cheese-based) and hot stone (pierre-chaud) cooking, where slices of meat or poultry are cooked at the table on a heated stone. Onion and vegetable soups are common starters and potatoes often accompany meals. However, my favourite local specialty was tartiflette.
Tartiflette, contrary to what I had thought, is not a tart but a dish of potatoes, onions, cream and bacon with cheese melted on top. Honestly, with those ingredients, you could probably stick an old shoe in there and it would still be delicious! It’s not light but after a vigorous day of outdoor winter activities, it fits the bill perfectly.
In the Savoie region, reblochon is the type of cheese typically used in tartiflette. It can be found in North America at most good cheese shops, however, if it is not available, you can substitute a tomme, fontina, raclette or brie (bearing in mind that the taste of the finished dish will be different but no less delicious).
Serves 2 to 4 (it’s quite rich but if diners are very hungry, it will serve 2 – the recipe can easily be doubled)
This recipe is a great way to use up leftover cooked potatoes.
- 6 oz. (170 grams) slab bacon, cut into a 1/2″ dice
- 1 medium to large (about 6 oz / 170 g) yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cups diced peeled and cooked potatoes (cut into a 1/2″ dice) – about 2 large potatoes
- 3/4 cup half-and-half
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 7 to 8 oz. (200 to 226 g) reblochon cheese (see above for substitutions)
- Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add the diced bacon. Cook the bacon until almost crisp, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped onion to the bacon. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the cooked potato chunks to the skillet and stir until the mixture is combined. Pour in the half-and-half and simmer gently on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- While the mixture is simmering, prepare the cheese. Slice the reblochon into thin slices about 1/4″ thick. Use a sharp knife to trim off the rind if desired (the rind is edible but it may be quite strong tasting and have a slightly gritty texture).
- Spoon the potato mixture into individual oven-proof dishes or one large casserole dish (if the skillet has an oven-proof handle, you can keep it in the pan if desired). Lay the sliced cheese in an even layer over the potato mixture.
- Place the oven rack in the top position and turn on the broiler. Broil the tartiflettes until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 3 minutes (watch carefully – it can burn in an instant!)
- Let cool slightly and serve with a lightly dressed green salad.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!
Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.