Our Global Gourmet recipe series is designed to bring the foods we loved while traveling into our own kitchens and onto our own dinner tables. And since no meal is ever complete without a glass of wine to go with it, we’ve included wine, beer or spirit pairings as well.
I actually can’t believe I’ve lived this many years of my life and have only just learned about Tartiflette. I ordered it spontaneously from the menu in the cutest little chalet in the French Alps, near Chamonix. All I knew about it was that it was made with cheese and potatoes. I love both of those things. Now I’m obsessed with this humble cheese and potato dish. Believe me, you definitely need to learn how to make French Tartiflette, asap.
Doesn’t it look heavenly?
Tartiflette is a dish from the Savoie region of the French Alps, so the beautiful mountain town of Chamonix is prime territory to try this traditional dish. To be more specific, it’s made with potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons and onions. We’d earlier visited an open-air farmer’s market where there were entire wheels of reblochon cheese being sold for around 6 euros each. I really should have bought one, and I was kicking myself for not as soon as I fell in love with Tartiflette.
This dish is basically a potato and cheese casserole. It closely resembles potatoes au gratin, also a French dish. Au Gratin is baked in a shallow pan, with potatoes, cream and a crunchy topping, like buttered breadcrumbs. If you already love potatoes au gratin, you’ll be in heaven when you taste the tartiflette. Add lardons, onions and exchange the breadcrumbs for gooey, melted cheese and you have a dish you won’t be able to stop thinking about.
Pairing French Tartiflette with Wine
Finding the perfect wine pairing to go with tartiflette isn’t difficult since France is blessed with such incredible wine regions. Since tartiflette hails from the Savoie region of France, I think it pairs particularly well with a crisp, dry white from the Savoie wine region, like a Jacquère or Roussette. The only problem for most of us is that it can be quite difficult to find Savoie wines outside of France. If you can’t find it, look for a dry white wine like a Chablis or Alsace. A dry Riesling would also pair well with the cheesy creaminess of the dish.
How to Make a French Tartiflette
One of the most important ingredients of a tartiflette is the cheese. Reblochon cheese is an Appellation d’Origine product of the Savoie region in France. It’s been around since the 13th century and has become quite famous in the region and throughout France. You can find it today just about anywhere cheese is sold in Savoie, at least, plus largely throughout Europe. It’s a really creamy cheese, produced in a wheel-shape with a thick rind. While this is the cheese used for the traditional recipe, if you’re not able to find it where you live, you can use an aged, creamy brie as a Reblochon substitute.
The other most important ingredient to tartiflette is the potatoes. A waxy variety is the best to use so that it doesn’t crumble or disintegrate when cooked. I used yellow potatoes and they turned out great. You can decide how big you want to cut the chunks of potato. Smaller chunks make for a more uniform, nice looking dish, but larger chunks are more satisfying to eat, in my opinion. You can also slice the potatoes into rounds, if you prefer.
I think it’s best to pre-cook the potatoes. There are two reasons for this. If you don’t pre-cook them, it will take forever for them to cook while baking, and the other ingredients may suffer from overcooking. I parboiled the potatoes with their skins on, then allowed them to cook and peeled them. You can leave the skins on if you like them that way. I think cut the half-cooked potatoes into cubes. This strategy works very well. The potatoes will continue to cook while baking.
Other things you’ll need are onions (I prefer sweet onions), bacon or lardons, and a dry white wine – garlic is optional. The recipes vary greatly over whether to include cream and butter. It’s definitely not necessary. The dish already has a lot of calories – it probably doesn’t need any more. But if you like a creamier dish, you’ll want to add at least a bit of cream.
I cook the lardons most of the way through, then add the chopped onions. Once they are translucent, I add the garlic for a minute, then the wine and cook until its mostly evaporated. You don’t want to overcook the garlic or it will turn bitter. Adding ingredients in stages is a good way to prevent that.
Put half the potatoes and the lardon mixture into your baking dish. If you want to keep it real, you should use a round dish (like this one) that fits the size of the reblochon wheel. If you’re making individual servings (which I actually prefer), you’ll just have to cut up the cheese differently. The best way to cut it is just to slice the entire wheel in half, then layer it with the potatoes in the dish. You can leave the rind on the cheese.
For individual dishes, you’ll need to cut the cheese into slices or chunks, to fit the size of the dish. If you’re like me, you’ll find it hard to put that much cheese into one single dish, but that’s what tartiflette is all about. Do it for the sake of the dish!
Now, just pop it in the oven and let it bake for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly on top. It should look something like this.
- 3-4 large waxy potatoes
- 1/2 pound lardons or bacon cut into small pieces
- 1 medium white onion peeled and diced
- 1 clove garlic peeled and finely diced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 Reblochon cheese wheel cut in half
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- 2 tbsp butter
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Boil the potatoes in well-salted water until just tender to a fork, but not fully cooked. Drain and let cool.
- Melt half the butter in a frying pan and saute the onions and bacon until both beginning to brown. Pour in the wine. Simmer and reduce. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.
- Cut the potatoes into small cubes. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and saute potato cubes until they begin to brown. Add the diced garlic to the pan and toss to incorporate. Remove from heat.
- Fill a round or square glass baking dish with half the potatoes. Cover with half the onion and lardon mixture and season with salt and pepper. Add half the reblochon. Cover with the remaining potatoes and onion/lardon mix, season again. Top with the remaining reblochon half, rind faceing up.
- Bake for 20 minutes until browned and bubbling. Can be placed under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the top, if desired.
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.