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.
How to make French Tartiflette
- 3 pounds beef soup bones (marrow and knuckle bones)
- 1 medium yellow onion, thickly sliced
- 2-inch piece of ginger (peeled)
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 4-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp palm sugar
- 1 pound beef chuck, sirloin, or brisket, thinly slices
- 1 package flat rice noodles
- 1 sm birds eye chili, finely sliced
- 1 bunch Thai basil
- 1 bunch mint leaves
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Sriracha to taste
- If making your own beef stock from bones, it can add a lot of flavor to roast the bones in the oven first. Place the bones, onions and ginger on a baking sheet and roast at 375°F for 20 minutes. Remove the bones from the oven. Set the onions and ginger aside. Place bones only in a large stockpot, covered with water. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove the bones from the stockpot and rinse throughly with water. Discard the boiling liquid.
- Place the bones once again in the stockpot and cover with 1 liter of water. Add the bay leaves and vinegar. Allow bones to simmer at medium-low temperature for at least 3 hours. Remove bones from the liquid.
- If using store-bought stock. Start here by adding the stock to your stockpot. Add onions, ginger, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, coriander and salt to the stock. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the fish sauce and palm sugar.
- Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Place a large handful of noodles in a large bowl. Top with the raw thinly sliced beef (it must be very thin in order to cook quickly). Pour the hot broth into the bowl. Top each bowl with as many condiments as desired.
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