If you are a regular in the Alps, you will no doubt have seen stickers on the back of cars, proudly stating “In Tartiflette We Trust”. Tarti-what? Tartiflette – Think melted cheese, onions, diced bacon - combined with the carb-loading comfort of steaming golden potatoes. After a long morning tearing up the snow, nothing beats refuelling the real Alpine way – with a large serving of Tartiflette.
Tartiflette is inspired by a traditional dish called La Péla. The difference is how they’re cooked, and the addition of a splash of white wine. La Péla was cooked in a large pan with a long handle that looked like a spade (la pelle en francais), hence its name. It was cooked in the hearth or in a communal bread oven. - so the oven-baked Tartiflette is a little more practical!
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Tartiflette has a long and enchanting history as an ancient Alpinepeasant food, passed from generation to generation. But the reality is not nearly so charmant! It was actually invented in the 1980s as an ingenious marketing ploy, dreamed up by the producers of Reblochon cheese (Le Syndicat Interprofessionnel du Reblochon) as a way to sell more cheese!
As marketing ideas go, Tartiflette is a resounding – and frankly delicious - success.
The name Tartiflette likely comes from tartifles, the Savoyard word for potatoes.
A Tartiflette must be made using the distinctly, let’s say ‘pungent’ Reblochon cheese!
Reblochon is a Savoyard cheese made from unpasteurised milk, certified as a PDO or “Protected Designation of Origin”. This means its manufacturing stages are carried out according to recognised ancestral know-how – and the end product is only ever the best. i
The name Reblochon comes from the term “re-blocher” literally meaning “to milk a second time”. In the XVIIth century, the milk for Reblochon was produced through a second milking of the cows, with that milk being richer and creamier than from the first milking.
You can buy Reblochon cheese in Samoens in many of the local dairies, or “fruitieres”. Why not take one home, and try making it yourself!
Best prepared when there’s a chill in the air and you've been outside working up a serious appetite!
Waxy Potatoes to fill a small gratin dish
1 medium onion
200 grams (6 ounces) of the best smoked bacon you can find - poitrine fumé or if not, lardons fumes
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons fat: butter or duck fat
Salt and pepper
Small pot of crème fraiche epaisse or heavy whipping cream if you don't have crème fraiche
Small glass of Savoie dry white wine
1/2 of a Reblochon de Savoie
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices.
- Roughly chop the onion.
- Heat the fat in a heavy saucepan and add the onions, bacon and sauté gently for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and continue to sauté for 5 more minutes.
- Add the wine, give the potatoes a stir, cover, season with salt and pepper as desired, and let simmer and steam in the wine for 10 minutes more.
- Grease the gratin pan with fat, crush the garlic clove, and rub the garlic clove all over the inner surface of the pan.
- Reserve the remaining garlic for another use (the vinaigrette for the accompanying salad, for example).
- Add the crème fraiche to the potato onion bacon mixture, and transfer it to the gratin pan.
- Slice the Reblochon into 2 circular halves with a sharp knife, and place the two pieces on top of the potatoes, rind side up.
- Place into the very hot oven and bake for 10 minutes at 250C.
- Turn the heat down to 200C and bake 10 more minutes
- Turn off the oven, and leave the dish in the oven without opening it for another 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with a salad, crusty bread, and the wine you cooked with. We also like to serve with some cured meats, and tangy cornichons.
In the restaurants in Samoens, you’ll not only find Tartiflette on the menu, but also sometimes a tartiflette pizza!! It’s a real carb load!
Another related dish found throughout the region is the Croziflette which replaces potatoes with minuscule squares of locally produced pasta, Crozets de Savoie. The name of this dish is a blend of "crozet" and "tartiflette".