I first ate tartiflette the first time I was living in France. I was living with a French family at the time, and I ate what they cooked for me – the vast majority of it was fabulous, although some dishes were less pleasant (duck gizzards, anyone?). I was delighted when a plate of creamy, cheesy potatoes appeared in front of me, and even more delighted when I tasted them. This dish is like a gratin dauphinoise with extra fabulousness.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
50g unsalted butter
200g pancetta cubes or lardons
250g cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1kg waxy potatoes (I’ve tried Charlotte, Desiree and Maris Piper, all are pretty good)
Salt and pepper
250g Reblochon cheese, cubed
600ml double cream
Heat the oven to 150C/130 Fan/Gas Mark 2. Grease a shallow 2 litre baking dish with half the butter.
Over a medium-high heat, fry the pancetta (no need for oil, it can cook in its own fat) until crisp and brown, then remove and drain on kitchen paper. Pour off most of the fat, leaving a little in the pan, then add the mushrooms. Sauté for 5 minutes and season.
Peel the potatoes and slice them to a thickness of about 3mm. Toss the slices in salt and pepper, then arrange half of them in a layer in the baking dish. Sprinkle the pancetta and mushrooms over, then top with half of the cheese cubes. Season again, then arrange the other potato slices on top. Pour the cream over the top – it should just cover the potatoes and you may not need all of it. Dot with the remaining butter.
Bake it in the oven for 1 1/4 hours, until the potatoes are tender. Add the remaining cheese cubes to the top, then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover the dish with foil and leave for 15 minutes before dishing it up. Serve with a green salad.
I’ve also heard of pouring a glass of white wine over the potatoes before baking – I’d be interested to hear of your variations on tartiflette!