BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Tartiflette (bacon, cheese and potato gratin)

French Alpine Reblochon


One of the great cheese dishes of Europe, this bacon, cheese and potato gratin from the French Alps was the subject of some controversy until the Savoyards decided to promote it with the slogan ‘In tartiflette we trust’ in 2001, emblazoned on bags, sweatshirts, t-shirts, stickers and other paraphernalia.

Cheese production was boosted by the arrival of the railway in Annecy and the integration of Savoy into France in 1860. By the 1930s the reblochon cheese-makers were producing more than the market could bear. To promote the use of reblochon, a Savoyard cheese-maker had the idea to reinvent a local dish called pêla, a fricassee of potatoes that contained reblochon, and it caught the imagination of the chefs and diners of the ski resorts. A La Clusaz restaurateur decided to give this version of pêla a new name – tartiflette!

Another story tells that the recipe for the tartiflette was invented in the 1980s by the Reblochon Interprofessional Syndicate to promote sales of reblochon. However, this idea is contradicted by the director of the same union. We prefer the La Clusaz story. It is more plausible.

Don’t forget to remove the small pastille pasted on the reblochon.

  • 1 kg Belle de Fontenay / Nicola / Roseval / Rosine waxy potatoes, peeled, par-boiled, sliced thick
  • 500 g Abondance cheese / Reblochon cheese, half grated, half cut into small wedges
  • 300 g onions, sliced thick
  • 300 g smoked bacon, cut into strips
  • 125 ml crème fraîche / sour cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed, for rubbing baking dish
  • 30 g butter
  • 30 ml white wine
  • 5 g black pepper
  • Nutmeg, grated, large pinch

Fry the fatty strips of bacon in butter until they are crispy. Add remaining bacon, fry for a minute, then add the onions. Fry over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, fry until the onions are soft and have taken some colour at the edges. Rub a deep baking dish with crushed garlic. Place a layer of potatoes in the dish followed by the bacon-onion mixture and some cheese wedges. Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, add liquid to baking dish. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Arrange remaining potatoes on top of the bacon-onion mixture, push pieces of cheese into gaps between the potatoes. Whisk milk into the cream, pour over the potatoes. Season with black pepper and nutmeg. Bake for 50 minutes. For a crispy topping brown under a hot grill.