Tartiflette. Sounds kinda fancy and maybe just a little bit uppity, right? Like the kind of dish that requires special cookware or a whole afternoon to make? Thankfully I was wrong on pretty much all counts.
Absent from most of the French cookbooks I’ve been using over the past month or so, I spotted the recipe for tartiflette in Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. A rustic dish with potatoes, cheese and bacon? Count me in.
But I hit a roadblock when Reblochon cheese, the key ingredient to tartiflette, was nowhere to be found in Honolulu. I was even more discouraged when Googling “Reblochon substitute tartiflette” seemed to yield a whole bunch of opinions that there simply is no substitute. Bummer.
But as luck would have it, Food and Wine had an article about Bourdain in their December issue and I spotted an image of the very page in Les Halles which contained the recipe for tartiflette. And then there were those eight magic words written by Bourdain himself… “feel free to get creative with the cheese.”
Done and done. So while this isn’t technically tartiflette, I don’t think you’ll have anybody complaining at the dinner table. Bacon, onion, and potatoes are sauteed in rendered bacon grease and white wine and then layered with cheese. The whole thing is baked until nice and bubbly.
Something like brie will leave a visible rind while Gruyere or other rind-less cheeses should melt right in (for those of you who care about aesthetics). Slightly fancy-pants and pure comfort, I can’t imagine a better side or starch for a holiday meal.
Potatoes, Bacon and Brie, Tartiflette Style
Yield: 6-8 servings
* 2-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled
* 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon, diced
* 3/4 cup white wine
* salt and pepper
* 1 pound wheel Brie (or substitute another cheese)
* chopped parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until a paring knife can pierce the potatoes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut the potatoes into a 1/2 to 3/4 inch dice and set aside.
In a very large saute pan heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the bacon and cook until the bacon and onion are both browned. Add the potatoes, the wine and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the mixture from the heat. Place half of the mixture in a large, ovenproof dish. Cut the cheese in half horizontally, so that you have two identical rounds, each with one side of the rind.
Cut the wheels into several wedges. Scatter half of the cheese on top of the potato layer, rind side up. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture and the remaining cheese.
Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, scatter with parsley, if using, and serve hot.