Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
The first time I had tartiflette, it was a gray and miserably cold day in a tiny town near Lyon, France. Our group had retreated into a brasserie and quickly ordered rounds of white vin de table. The tartiflette that came later was a bubbling mass of boiled potatoes, bacon and onions cooked stovetop in the bacon fat and topped with Reblochon cheese, rind up, all baked for together for about 20 minutes. Heaven. When you’re eating something like this, it’s not the time to be dainty.
Tartiflette is commonly found on menus near the French Alps; local lore has it that the dish was originally invented as a way to sell more Reblochon cheese—the chief ingredient. Reblochon is gooey and stinky, stronger than the Emmentaler and Gruyère that Americans consider the norm for fondue and other melted-cheese dishes. As the tartiflette cooks, the cheese’s aroma dissipates while the nutty flavors intensify.
As such, for the wine pairing, you need a clean white wine with bright acidity to stand up to the rich flavors and counter the weight of the dish. Aim for an unoaked wine that has light aromas and flavors of stone fruit and apple rather than tropical notes. An easy-drinking Bourgogne Blanc would probably be a lovely pairing here, but what worked well in my kitchen was a crisp, light-bodied Verdicchio from central Italy’s Marche region. The wine provided a fresh contrast to the unctuous, savory flavors of melting cheese, bacon and potatoes. Understated notes of minerality in the wine bolstered the tartiflette's swaggering umami flavor profile.
One thing to consider when preparing this recipe: Reblochon is not cheap. (Note: This raw-milk cheese is also not quite the same in the United States as it is in Europe, as imports have to be aged longer or pasteurized.) To sidestep the high price, I used the Reblochon for the top, rind up, and substituted chunks of Raclette within the mixture of potatoes, onions and bacon. (Cut out the Raclette rind before mixing.) Tartiflette loyalists may be horrified, but the thing is damn delicious just the same.
Pair with a crisp, clean white wine like Umani Ronchi Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Villa Bianchi 2016 (86 points, $14).
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Approximate food costs: $35
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F and set a large pot of water to boil.
2. Place the potatoes in the boiling water and cook on medium-high heat, about 15 minutes. Remove them before they begin to get soft, let cool slightly and chop into medium-sized pieces. (Leave the skins on for richer flavor.) Put the pieces into a large bowl. As the potatoes cook, fry the bacon in a large stovetop pan for approximately 4 minutes. Add the onions and continue cooking until the bacon pieces are partially browned and the onions are translucent.
3. Pour the dry white wine into the pan to deglaze it, turn up to high heat and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes, until the wine is completely reduced but before the ingredients begin to burn.
4. Pour the bacon and onions into the bowl of potatoes and gently mix. If needed, drain off any excess fat so that no liquid fat gathers at the bottom of the bowl. Transfer the mix to a large, deep-bottomed pan such as a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan. Slice the Raclette into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the potato mixture, stirring gently. Slice the Reblochon cheese lengthwise, creating two thinner slices. Place both slices on top of the tartiflette, rind up.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is mostly melted; some light charring should begin to occur. Serve hot. Serves 4.