The Taste of The French Alps
Every region of the world has its own style of food. These styles come from what is traditionally available in those regions. The Savoie region of the french alps has many local ingredients, but for most people the taste of the french alps is made up of cheese, meat and potatoes.
These specialities are rich, heavy and bad for you, meaning that they are very tasty! They originate from when olden day mountain folk had to survive being stuck up an alp for large parts of the year due to being snowed in.
Eating a savoyard speciality with some wine is a great way to finish a day on the mountain.
So we are starting a short series of blogs to to help you decide which one to choose when visiting the french alps. This will come in handy if you are staying in one of our self catered apartments or fancy something local on the chalet host’s night off.
We are kicking off with one of our favourites, tartiflette.
Ingredients don’t get much better than gooey cheese, potatoes and bacon in a creamy white wine sauce.
From the the traditional recipe to a trendy deconstructed versions, tartiflette is served in pretty much every restaurant in Morzine. You can even get tartiflette pizzas!
Rebelchon is a rich creamy savoyard cheese and is the cheese used in tartiflette. The word reblechon derives from “reblocher” which weirdly means “to pinch the cows udder again”. This is because in the 14th century farmers were taxed on the amount of milk their cows produced. So they would not fully milk their cows until the land owners measured the yield. The remaining milk was much richer making their cheese that much creamier.
Obviously reblechon is very easy to find in Morzine, but it is still available in the UK. Good delicatessens, cheese shops and markets do stock it.
Tartiflette is an easy dish to make. Below is a traditional recipe and the one we serve to our guests in our catered chalets. The differences are that the traditional version layers the cheese and potatoes, while our version has the cheese pushed between the potatoes and has a very winey sauce.
For vegetarians, a good substitute for the bacon bits is some chopped mushrooms.
Tartiflette is best served with charcuterie, fresh crisp green salad, cornchions and a decent bottle of wine.
Try making both and let us know what you think.
Traditional Tartiflette Recipe
500g (1lb 2oz) good-quality smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
2 tbsp vegetable oil
40g (scant 11⁄2oz) unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1⁄2 tbsp chopped thyme
4 tbsp plain flour
120ml (4fl oz) dry white wine
600ml (1 pint) double cream Grating of nutmeg
600g (1lb 5oz) desiree potatoes 200ml (7fl oz) full-fat milk
200ml (7fl oz) water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
✽ Prepare the lardons (cubed bacon) first by putting enough water to cover them in a large pan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil. Add the lardons and cook for 10 seconds. This removes the excess salt. Drain well.
✽ Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the drained lardons and fry for 10-12 minutes until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to kitchen paper to drain.
✽ Next, put the butter in a pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes until golden, then add the bay leaf and thyme. Cook, stirring, for another couple of minutes, then add the drained lardons and the flour. Cook for 2 minutes more, then add the wine. Cook for 5 minutes until the wine has evaporated, then add the cream.
✽ Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Season to taste with salt, if required, and with pepper and nutmeg. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.
✽ Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5).
✽ Peel the potatoes and cut them into 5mm (1⁄4in) slices. Rinse the slices under cold running water, then put them in a pan and cover with the milk and water.
✽ Add a few pinches of salt and cook the potato slices over a medium heat for 8 minutes until they are cooked but still slightly firm. Try not to overcook. Drain well.
✽ Place the potatoes in overlapping rows in an ovenproof dish and pour the cream and wine sauce on top.
✽ Cut the Reblochon in half widthways, then in half again lengthwise to produce 4 pieces. Place the pieces on top with the rind face up.
✽ Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling.
The More Mountain Tartiflette indulgence!
Serves about 12
pre heat oven 180 Degrees
3 raclette potatoes per person
2 x 20 cl carton cream
1.5 tub of 4% Light Creme Fraiche
1 large chopped onion between 2 people or 2 small onions, ie 1 each
2 double pack of smoked allumetes (thin) lardons
1 double pack of unsmoked allumettes (thin) lardons
3 Cloves Garlic
1 bottle of white wine
Salted butter to fry off onions and line the baking dish
3 Reblochon Cheese Rounds 450g
✽ Slice potatoes in half or leave whole if smaller than an egg, but leave the skins on. Boil them in salted water until firm. Then rinse the off and drain them in a colander and cool. Set aside.
✽ Fry off the onions in butter and add garlic, then de-glaze the pan with some white wine.
✽ Add bacon once the wine has reduced and stir for about 5 minutes.
✽ Add more wine after frying off the lardons and deglaze the pan again.
✽ Add creme fraiche and reduce
✽ Add half carton of cream and reduce again
✽ Add more wine and reduce a bit more before adding the rest of the cream and some black pepper
✽ Put the potatoes into a buttered baking dish whole. This is the secret! Squash each spud ever so slightly, so they are slightly crushed with the back of a spoon or your thumb, just enough to burst them out of the skin. You dont wash mash!!
✽ Slice the Reblechon round into 16 small wedges, keeping the rind on the cheese then squeeze and nuzzle the cheese wedges in between each of the crushed potatoes.
✽ Pour the cream lardon mix over the potatoes.
✽ Tilt the pan to distribute the cream and lardons.
✽ Add a bit more wine over the top of the dish and freshly cracked black pepper. Tilt the dish side to side to distribute the extra wine evenly. For an extra bite, sprinkle some grated Comte on top for all your big cheese fans!
✽ Bake for 45 mins at 180 on top shelf until golden brown and bubbling at the edges!
We always serve with a crisp green Mesclun Salad and Charcuterie Platter – That’s the Royale version.
Oh… and Don’t forget the Genepi!
By Tom Fortune