The classic French tartiflette, a hot casserole of potatoes, cheese, and bacon, comes from Haute-Savoie in the French Alps. It is traditionally made with the soft cow’s milk cheese Reblochon from the same region, which is not imported because of US raw milk cheese restrictions. Among the alternatives, says Brian Wasik, co-owner of The Cheese Shop in Wellesley, is Fromager des Clarines, a soft, washed-rind cheese made in neighboring Franche-Comte. Other options include Prefere de Fromi and Prefere de nos Montagnes, pasteurized cow’s milk cheeses similar to Reblochon; the Vacherin-style L’Edel de Cleron; as well as semi-soft tommes from the French and Swiss Alps. If the cheese has a soft rind, it can be left on when making tartiflette, otherwise it’s best to cut it off.
|2½||pounds red potatoes, peeled|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|½||pound thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces|
|1||medium onion, thinly sliced|
|½||cup dry white wine|
|1||pound Reblochon-style cheese, such as Fromager des Clarines or Prefere de nos Montagnes, sliced about ⅓-inch thick|
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Have on hand an oval or rectangle 2½- to 3-quart baking dish.
2. In a large pot, place the potatoes with water to cover and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender when pierced with a skewer. Drain into a colander; set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Cut them into 1-inch chunks.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, render the bacon for 10 minutes, or until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet.
4. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until golden. Pour in the wine and cook, scraping the pan, for 3 minutes or until the wine reduces by about half. Add the potatoes, salt, and pepper and stir well. Remove from the heat.
5. In the baking dish, place half of the potato mixture. Sprinkle with ½ of the bacon and ⅓ of the cheese. Make 3 more layers in the same way. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling at the edges and the top is golden. For a darker top, broil the dish for 5 minutes. Lisa Zwirn