As a French person born in the Jura mountain, the country of Comté, Mont d’Or and Vin jaune, it is fair to say I’m partial to all things cheese! Later my family moved in the Alps region, which also has its share of delicious cheeses. Amongst those is the famous Reblochon, whose name comes “Reblocher”, meaning “Milk a cow a second time”, a practice from the 14th century, when farmers had to pay a tax on their milk yield: they didn’t milk the cow entirely, so that they pay less tax and the extra milk obtained later was even richer and ideal to make cheese. The result was a washed-rind smear-ripened cheese, very soft and creamy inside: the Reblochon.
As a student freshly debarked from the nest in the “big city” (I thought Grenoble was pretty big at the time!), I relished coming home to my parents to get pampered and fattened up! Winters can be quite rough in France, and there is nothing quite like a cheesy dish to warm your bones and recover from the cold outside. Alongside the Raclette and the Fondue, the Tartiflette, a Savoyard potato gratin, is a winter’s big favourite and my mother would prepare it for me all the time. It is a simple but deadly efficient dish: potatoes, onions, cream, lardons and half a Reblochon wheel, simply placed on top of the potatoes in the oven to obtain a gooey and crispy goodness running through the whole dish…. Deeply comforting and decadent.
Unfortunately Reblochon can’t be imported in Australia as it is made from raw milk (shake head), which has put me in a state of despair for a long time, until recently when I found the pasteurized version at Simon Johnson, a 500g beast named “Douceur du Jura” (Sweetness of the Jura). It is not quite pungent as the real deal, but it does the trick nicely!
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
1 kg “waxy” potatoes
1 brown onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
150 g lardons (bacon, thinly diced)
100 ml pure cream
Optional: A splash of dry white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
500 g Reblochon
Optional: not in the original recipe, but if you like garlic, a bit of thinly chopped garlic thrown in with the chopped onion tastes alright too! (I’m going to get killed by purists for saying that though)
1) Peel then chop the potatoes roughly, then put them in cold water on high heat for 15 minutes in a 6-7 liter pot. Drain them, then chop them in smaller pieces. Chop the onion and cook it in a 28cm classic pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon of butter for a few minutes, then add the thinly diced bacon.
2) Add the potatoes to the pan until they are cooked but not golden. Pour the whole mixture into a baking dish, add the cream and the splash of dry white wine, salt and pepper. Cut the Reblochon in half lengthwise, and place over the potatoes so that the crust is on top.
3) Put in the oven at high temperature (around 150-200°) for 15 minutes, or depending on ovens, until the Reblochon crust is golden brown and crispy.
Enjoy with a green salad and a glass of wine!