Thursday, 12 January 2012

Blue tartiflette

A dish of tartiflette is pure indulgence - the blend of sautéed potatoes, onion, bacon and cheese smothered in cream then topped with breadcrumbs and grilled until it's bubbling is perhaps the ultimate in French comfort food. It's also staggeringly high in calories, so it should be a rare treat if you care about your weight - the French usually use butter at the frying stage and full-fat cream at the grilling stage.

Tartiflette originates from the alpine region of Haute Savoie, where the local Reblochon cheese is a key ingredient. However, the dish works well with most soft, creamy cheeses. I had a lump of Blacksticks Blue left over from Christmas so that's what I used here. My version is also lower in fat as I use half-fat crème fraiche and olive oil.

What you need:
1 onion, roughly chopped
3-4 small potatoes, or 1 medium to large, diced
2 slices of bacon, cut into strips, or 1 small pack of lardons
Soft creamy cheese, about 150g, cubed
1 small carton of half-fat crème fraiche

What to do:
Heat some olive oil in a heavy sauteuse and sauté the potatoes on a high heat until they soften and start to colour. Remove carefully, keeping as much of the oil in the pan as you can and place in an oven-proof dish. Sauté the bacon next and add to the potatoes, again leaving the oil in the pan. Finally, turn the heat down and sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent. Add to the potatoes and bacon and mix well. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Heat the grill. Stir through the cheese and crème fraiche and top with homemade breadcrumbs. Grill until the mixture is bubbling and the breadcrumbs have formed a crispy gratin. Eat with a green salad on the side.

Cook's tips:
I make batches of breadcrumbs every so often, then freeze them in a storage container. They can be used straight from frozen.

In France smoked salmon is sometimes used instead of the bacon.