I think that most people who know us would categorize my husband and I as people who enjoy life. We probably drink too much, eat too much, care too much and generally make being good at life (a simultaneously ignorant and ingenious proposal) our main goal. I hope, at least, that this generosity of spirit is one reason we feel so loved, in return, by our friends.
So, what is the change within? It's not just that I now love crazy cheeses or would walk to the ends of the earth for a good baguette. The things I now consider normal sometimes strike my funny bone when I take a step back and think about my former perspective.
For one, I must have been French in a former life because I absolutely love what the French have done for cheese, bacon and starch. I mean, is there anything they haven't thought of in this arena? Since when would a meal in the States ever consist of just those 3 ingredients? I actually had to laugh when I recently saw a sandwich at our boulangerie filled with sliced potatoes and what looked like bacon. I don't know what else it had on it, but it made me think how completely unacceptable that would be in the
The point is that my boundaries have been pushed and now I just like it that way. My palate was kidnapped, brainwashed and put back into society to forever wreak havoc on uptight trendy food. Bring on the bread, cheese and starch. Bring on the gigantic salads covered in fried potatoes. Bring on the steak frites, house wine and roast chicken, not to mention perhaps 30 lbs. But, regardless, bring on perhaps the most insulting dish to the American sensibility...Tartiflette.
Tartiflette is a recipe from Savoie for a gratin of potatoes, lardons, onions and reblochon cheese. The secret is in the Reblochon, which is absolutely heavenly. The texture is close to a Brie or Camembert, and although the Reblochon is stronger smelling, the taste is milder than those two. Reblochon is Paul's new favorite cheese. This being a heavy, après-ski sort of dish, it is best consumed after some heavy lifting, which is why I always like to do some extreme raking, jazzercise, or shoveling of snow while it's in the oven. Serve it with a green salad and promise not to eat cheese or potatoes for at least a few days.
1 kg (2.2 lb) waxy white potatoes (so, no russets)
250 g (about 1/2 cup chopped) lardons or chopped bacon
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp crème fraîche
1 wheel (250-350 g) Reblochon cheese
1/3 - 1/2 cup dry white wine (from Savoy, traditionally)
salt and pepper
Clean the potatoes and peel them if you like, but you don't need to. Boil the whole potatoes in a large pot of water just until tender but slightly undercooked, about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Slice the onion and sauté in a bit of butter until translucent but not colored. Add the bacon to the pan and fry until crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Slice the potatoes very thinly and layer 1/3 of them in a buttered casserole dish. (not quite a 9x13, but a large pan, depending on how many potatoes you have) Layer on half the bacon and onions, another layer of potatoes, and the rest of the bacon and onions. Sprinkle each layer with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg, too. Top with the remaining potatoes. Spread the crème fraîche evenly over the top and pour the white wine evenly over the gratin. Use the wine at your discretion, you don't want too much.
Cut the wheel of Reblochon in half to make two thinner wheels of cheese. Place each wheel cut side down on top of the potato gratin (the rind will be visible). You may have to cut the cheese to fit evenly in the dish, just cover as much surface area as possible. Bake in a hot oven, at least 400, maybe 425 degrees F (200-215 degrees C) for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned on top.
Here is where there is some discrepancy. Personally, I don't enjoy eating the rind of the Reblochon, although it's perfectly safe and many people love it as it adds extra flavor, my husband being one of them. So, I left the rind on one half of the cheese and cut it off the other half. Being a sort of soft sticky cheese, I just ended up cutting it the best I could into chunks and scattering it over the gratin so it would melt evenly.
So, this was pretty much divine. I was a little ashamed of myself while I was making it, you know, thinking...this is so bad for me, so unhealthy; this is WAY too much cheese, but I was really surprised. It wasn't too much cheese and the flavor wasn't as over the top as I thought it would be. Plus, I didn't feel any guilt at all. See how