Saskatchewan Menu of the Week -- 6 March 2006
Breakfast -- Yogurt and cherries.
Lunch -- Venison salami and mustard on bread.
Dinner -- Tartiflette.
We had dinner the other night at the home of our friends, Tom and Eva. They had just come home from France with their suitcases full of food (as they often do), including a reblochon cheese. I consulted the World Encyclopedia of Cheese, which describes reblochon as having "a supple and creamy texture that flows over and caresses the palate." Who can resist a cheese as sensuous as that? For dinner, Eva prepared tartiflette, a traditional French alpine specialty that calls for reblochon cheese. It was fabulous. The dish is somewhat like scalloped potatoes with the addition of the rich and fragrant cheese. I loved it so much I had to have it again. I didn’t have any reblochon at home, but I did have some raclette, the French cheese traditionally melted over boiled potatoes.
Of course, French cheese is not from Saskatchewan. But there is no equivalent cheese made here - and I don't think this dish was meant for cheddar! But the potatoes are local. The bacon is local. Even the cream was the very heavy variety, straight from the cow. The kind you can't buy in a store (unless you're in France).
I think tartiflette is best made in flat individual serving dishes, as Eva did, but it can also be made in a single large casserole. The trick, I think, is to have a wide pan so the layers are skinny and there’s much top exposure for browning the cheese. I searched the internet for various versions of tartiflette, and this is what I came up with:
2 lbs of potatoes
2 T butter
2 slices bacon, small diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
one reblochon cheese or 250g of other pungent melting cheese, sliced
2 cups cream
salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and cut into slices 1/8 inch thick.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Sauté the bacon and onion until softly cooked.
Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish(s). Spread on half the onion and bacon. Layer on half the cheese. Salt and pepper. Repeat. Pour on the cream. It should just cover the potatoes. (If it’s not enough, top it up with milk.)
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 - 1.5 hours. The top should be nicely browned.