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Tartiflette should be prescribed by doctors. No need for Xanax; Prozac – be gone. Tartiflette is the most reassuring, comforting and feel-good food imaginable. It dissipates stress, melts away depression and keeps the black dog from the door.
Tartiflette is the definitive comfort food. Potatoes, bacon and cheese – you can’t go wrong with that. It’s a simple dish and like any recipe coming from the highlands of any country, it looks in the pantry, finds stale bits and bobs and puts them together for dinner both nutritious and satisfying.
Originally an Haute-Savoyarde dish of potatoes and cheese called péla, tartiflette is a modern chalet and alpine lodge inhabitant, consumed après and avant ski. Arguably, you ought to have put away at least 20km of red runs in at least -20C before you tuck in, but in spite of horrified comments of ‘there’s a WHOLE CHEESE in the dish!’ I don’t think it’s that bad. I’ve laboriously calculated that a portion of what I cooked below comes up to about 900 calories per serving (it will serve 4) so half of your recommended intake even if you’re a sloth. If it’s your main meal, you have just a green salad with it and no pudding – and so a measly, cold January day in England will suffice as a requisite background.
And it has tremendous mind healing properties. It has the ‘aaah!’ inducing effect when the plate has been cleaned. Vegetarians – just skip the bacon. Time-poor – boil a cauldron of potatoes on Sunday afternoon and keep them for a weeknight, the preparation will then take just about 10 minutes plus half an hour’s baking time during which you can have a glass of dry white wine in joyful anticipation of the meal.
In fact it’s a surprisingly clever make-ahead dish: sans the wine drizzle and perhaps prior to topping with cheese, the spuds and onion combo will obediently sit and wait for the dinner party time. So next time you plan to feed people at yours in bleak midwinter – you know what to do.
- 1kg (2 pound) medium sized waxy potatoes
- 200g (7oz) diced smoked bacon
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp. butter
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- a few thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
- 1 whole Reblochon cheese, chilled
- black pepper
- 2 tbsp. crème fraiche
- 1 small glass of white wine
1. Peel the potatoes or leave them skin-on, depending on your preference. Bring them to the boil in salty water and cook until tender, for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the variety). Drain and leave them to cool.
2. Cook the bacon and onions with the butter and mustard seeds in a small skillet, until soft but not browned; about 15 minutes. Prepare four individual or one large dish by rubbing the bottom and sides with the garlic clove. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.
3. Slice the potatoes in 5mm thin discs. Layer half of them at the bottom of the dishes, sprinkle with thyme leaves and season with black pepper. Follow by half the onion-bacon mix, make another layer of potatoes and cover with the remaining bacon and onions. Sprinkle with thyme, season with pepper again and dot with the crème fraiche.
4. Slice the reblochon in half horizontally, then in quarters or eights. Top the potatoes with it, skin side up; it needn’t cover the dish completely. Drizzle with a little wine.
5. Bake for 30 minutes until furiously bubbling, browned and crispy on top. Serve with torn iceberg lettuce seasoned with salt, pepper, runny honey, lemon juice and good olive oil.