Tartiflette is to the French what mac and cheese is to Americans: the best plate of comfort you could ask for. These two dishes have melted cheese in common -- and lots of it -- but that's where the similarities stop. Tartiflette forgoes the pasta for potatoes and bacon, and tops it with Reblochon cheese. It all gets baked together until the cheese has worked its way into every crevice of potato, and has an adequately browned and bubbling blanket of cheese on top.
Tartiflette hails from the Haute-Savoie region of France, which is nestled deep in the Alps. You know you're in good hands for a wintery dish when it comes from these snow-capped mountains. Making tartiflette is easy -- which is a must for a comfort dish -- and upon first bite you'll soon realize that this is the thing that has been missing from your life all these years.
To make tartiflette you line a casserole dish with sliced boiled potatoes, layer it with diced bacon and sweet cooked onions, and top it all with a healthy drizzle of creme fraiche. Then comes the crowning glory. You top the casserole with a whole wheel of Reblochon (or an appropriate substitute), and throw it in the oven. What comes out is perfection, making the trouble of finding the right cheese for this casserole more than worth it.
If you're making tartiflette stateside, you won't be able to get your hands on Reblochon. Because it's a raw cow cheese that's only been aged for 50 days, Reblochon is 10 days short of being okayed by the FDA. But there are notable substitutes -- and no, cheddar won't work here. You can try a Preferes des Montagnes, Vacherin Mont d’Or or even a Tomme de Savoie. If you don't have a great selection of cheeses near you, these varieties can be ordered from Murray's Cheese Shop. And it's well worth the effort.
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