Ski Chalet Supper:
Tartiflette, a baked gratin of potatoes, onions (or shallots), lardons (bacon), wine, cream and cheese, a staple of all ski lodge or chalet suppers, and a big favourite in our household; the dish originates from the Savoy (Savoie) region of France, famous for its skiing resorts, hosting the Winter Olympics, cheese and charcuterie, the region was annexed by France as late as 1860, and even now it retains a very distinct and independent character. It’s a beautiful part of East France, where the snowy mountains dominate the landscape, and I love the walking trails there in the summer as much as the skiing in the winter.
Today’s recipe is my adapted version of this classic dish, beloved of all chalet maids no doubt, as it’s the perfect meal to serve everyone after a long day on the slopes. I discovered the recipe on the back of a box of Reblochon cheese; the cheese is the main protagonist in this delectable Savoyard recipe – made with cow’s milk, it’s soft washed cheese with a rind, similar to Brie or Camembert; it has a delightful nutty taste and melts like a dream creating an unctuous and creamy cheese sauce.
There really isn’t another dish that is as comforting as Tartiflette on a cold winter’s day; the combination of soft potatoes, crisp lardons, golden onions all bound in a silky cheese sauce with a tasty, crunchy golden-brown topping is heaven in a bowl. It’s well worth the effort hunting out a large Reblochon cheese too, although Brie or Camembert will work if the cheese hunt proves fruitless. We like to enjoy ours with a large bowl of salad, cornichons and an acre or two of crusty bread.
For my vegetarian readers, you can of course omit the lardons (bacon) if you wish, and add some fried mushrooms maybe? The dish can be part-cooked (as in the potatoes boiled and the onions and bacon fried) and assembled, but it can then be popped in the fridge until you need to bake it – just remember to take it out half an hour beforehand to bring it to room temperature – this makes it a fabulous recipe to have prepared for any family supper, especially handy for after work or over the weekend.
So, if you have just returned from your spring break ski trip and you want to replicate those cosy apres-ski moments, then this is this is the recipe for you. Pong Cheese, a favourite on-line cheese site of mine, stocks Reblochon cheese, as does Waitrose, Sainsburys and Ocado. Another way to serve Tartiflette, which is especially good for a crowd, is to serve it with a selection of pickles, chutney and charcuterie, as well as the obligatory salad and crusty bread. Enjoy the recipe if you make it, and do let me know how you got on! Karen