French food on a budget: Tartiflette

Tried out the Tarte au Maroilles? Then you may have a carton of about 15 cl of crème fraiche left over. So what to do with this? Well, why not use this to make Tartiflette?

Tartiflette is another French main dish which is easy to make and should not cost the earth. Unlike Tarte au Maroilles, this is not a vegetarian dish. It also doesn’t originate from northern France, but from a region which was once part of the Duchy and later Kingdom of Savoy.

Like many European mini-states, it no longer exists. Bits of it ended up as parts of modern France. Two regions bear names linked to the former duchy: the departments Savoie and Haute-Savoie.

These two departments are right next to Switzerland and Italy. Tartiflette is made using a cheese from the area. This cheese is called Reblochon.

As with the Maroilles, the local French delis might sell it. However, I doubted I’d end up with a budget Tartiflette. So it was back to the internet to search for alternatives. As with Maroilles, the list included Brie and Camembert.

This time I decided to use Brie. So I hooved it double-quick to the local supermarket, for a triangle of about 150 gr of their cheapest Brie. This cost less than a Euro. At home, there were already potatoes, which at the moment cost about 1 to 1.50 Euro per kg. Onions came cheaper, at 0.50 Euro per 500 gr. The fridge contained 200 gr of diced bacon, of which I only used half. The 200 gr package cost about 1.50 Euro. The fridge also contained the left-over crème fraiche. A carton of 30 ml sets you back about 0.50 Euro here. To this needs to be added some butter or oil, as well as the costs of boiling, frying, use of the oven – but this dish tasted even better than the Tarte au Maroilles I’d made earlier!

Tartiflette

This is a main dish which can be served on its own or with a salad.
Don’t underestimate this dish, it’s quite filling.
The recipe serves 4 people.
Preparations take about 25 to 30 minutes
Oven time is about 35 minutes with the oven set at 250 C.

Ingredients

1 kg of potatoes for 4 people. (For 2 people, I used 2 medium-sized potatoes per person. Steer clear of potatoes used to make fries, which remain firm after cooking.)
3 large onions. (I used three medium ones.)
Oil to fry in (I used non-salted butter through-out this recipe.)
150 gr diced bacon. (I used about 100 gr for 2 people.)
Butter to grease an oven dish.
10 cl of crème fraiche (I used the left-over 15 cl, mixed with some white wine to make it more liquid.)
1 Reblochon (Replaced by about 150 gr of Brie for a 2-person oven dish)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preparations

Cook the potatoes in water with salt. Ensure they are soft to the core, but have not turned into mash. This might take 20 to 30 minutes.
Peel the potatoes and cut in thick slices.
In the meantime, peel the onions and cut in thin rings.
Using a frying pan, heat butter or oil and add the onions.
Once the onions have glazed, add the diced bacon and season to taste with pepper and salt.
Let the mixture fry over a low fire for a few minutes.
Grease your oven dish.
Preheat your oven at 250 C. This will take about 10 minutes.

Put the potato slices in the greased oven dish.
Cover with the fried onion and bacon mix.
Add more pepper if needed.
Cover the onion and bacon mix with the slightly liquified crème fraiche.
Cover the crème fraiche with cheese slices.

Put the dish in your oven for 20 to 35 minutes, checking regularly towards the end. The cheese should have melted slightly and browned. You are aiming at a “gratin”, so ensure the cheese doesn’t burn.
Serve warm with or without a salad and wine.

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