Sometimes I get sick of it. All the cooking and planning. All the discourse and thought about what to eat. Today was one of those days. This may sound weird, coming from someone who loves to eat, cook and discuss food, but sometimes, more often than not in fact, I get really sick of restaurants. The kind I like seem a little smug about their organic locavore-ness. (I have absolutely nothing against organic OR local foods – nothing at all – in fact I strive to eat both organically and locally. What I hate is anything smug.) So I didn’t want to go out for dinner. I didn’t want to order a pizza either.
Luckily, and this might sound wrong headed after the previous paragraph, another cookbook arrived in the mail. Another Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – of the River Cottage series – with his cheerful no-nonsense chatty prose. On page 114 there was a recipe for Tartiflette Toastie. Doesn’t that sound nice? What is that exactly?!
Well, it should have been leftovers. You’re supposed to have cold potatoes ready to go in the fridge and you’re supposed to have a beautiful piece of Reblochon, which might have been leftover from a dinner party the previous night. I wish I could have that dinner party. A true tartiflette is a Savoyard gratin made from Reblochon, potatoes, cream, onions, and ham. In this incarnation, tartiflette toasties are sliced leftover potatoes sauteed in butter and finished with cream, ham or bacon, and melted reblochon on top of thick slices of rustic bread. According to Wikipedia:
“Reblochon has a nutty taste that remains in [the] mouth after its soft and uniform centre has been enjoyed.”
So even though this sandwich was clearly intended to be made up of leftovers from dinner the night before, what did I do? I went to the store and bought fingerling potatoes to steam and asked about Reblochon. You can’t get it here, it’s imported and unpasteurized – so boring! I settled for Fleur d’Aunis which was recommended by the cheese monger (what a fun word that is!) at Whole Foods.
Fleur d’Aunis is lighter in color and a lot taller than Reblochon. I imagine that Reblochon has a muskier, more barnyard-y vibe too. However, Fleur d’Aunis was very nice; mildly nutty in flavor, soft and giving in texture. As recommended by the lady in the cheese department, I removed the soft rind which would have been unappealing melted over the top of the potatoes.
Tartiflette Toastie – River Cottage Every Day
10 minutes using leftovers, add 20 minutes if you have to cook the potatoes first.
- 4-6 slices of bacon or cooked ham cut into thin strips
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 8 fingerling potatoes, steamed and sliced to 1/4″
- 4 tbsp heavy cream
- 4 oz Fleur d’Aunis or other soft washed rind cheese, sliced rather thickly (or Reblochon if you are lucky enough to have some!)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 slices toasted rustic bread, cut in 1/2″ slices
- A salad of radicchio or arugula or something rather bitter, lightly dressed
- Lay the bacon in a heavy non-stick frying pan in a single layer (can overlap each other by 1/3) and turn on the heat to medium. Bacon will stay flat and cook more evenly if you start it in a cold pan. Cook until browned – I like mine rather crisp. Put the bacon aside on a plate.
- Pour off most of the bacon fat, leaving any crisped brown fond to flavor the potatoes. Add the olive oil and the butter and heat. Fry the potatoes until lightly browned.
- Add the cream allowing it to bubble and reduce for a minute or two. Stir in the bacon or ham toward the end. Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
- Divide the potato mixture over the 4 slices of toast. Lay the slices of cheese over the top and run the whole thing under the broiler until bubbly. Serve with the bitter salad.
We drank a Pinot from Oregon with the “Toastie” and I have to say this was a perfect dinner on a night when I didn’t feel like cooking.