Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Today I will talk about cooking, about a winter-dish. I know currently is summer and one would rather eat a lovely salad, but I have been thinking of this delicious melted cheese for too long now and I need to say something about it!
Le Reblochon... What a lovely name yet so hard to pronounce for most foreigners. Some say it smells like old socks, some would love to perfume themselves with it. I belong to the second category. Wikipedia gives some rather interesting facts about it, apparently the name comes from the language of Savoie (region of France bordering Italy where the Reblochon comes from) "re-blocher" which means to milk the cow a second times. Practice which apparently was used by farmers to cheat on controlers checking the amount of milk and therefore the number of cheeses they were supposed to produce. Anyway, this cheese is very rich in fat and is lovely eaten as such but even lovelier when melted over some potatoes. Just remember to take it out of the fridge a good 10 to 20 minutes before eating it. I would recommend a bit less if you intend to use it for cooking as it would make the cutting easier.
This cheese even has a dedicated website! http://www.reblochon.fr/le-connaitre/index.html
Now let's come to the recipe itself: La Tartiflette.
Itis a pure delight for melted cheese lovers. The way I have learnt to cook it is without proper measures, I just trust my senses. There are "proper" recipes but then I have always done it this way:
What you need:
- potatoes (quantity depends on number of guests around the table)
- lardons (small cubes/stripes of pork meat and fat) - when I lived in England I often used bacon instead.
- crème fraîche
- salt and pepper (NO herbs!)
- a reblochon (the size you pick in the shop will depend on the number of guests again)
If you are making it for vegetarians, omit the lardons and either have it normal and plain, or you can try with some mushrooms. It is also delicious like this.
How to make it:
- Take the cheese out of the fridge
- Set the potatoes in a sauce-pan of water to boil them. If they are young potatoes you can choose to keep the skin, if they are older potatoes it is best to peel them once they are ready. In both cases, don't let them go soft as you don't want mash!
- In the meantime, in a pan cook on gentle the lardons (usually no need for oil as they render fat themselves) then add the onions and get them golden. Take off the fire and add the crème fraîche. You want to have just enough of it to keep the whole dish nice and moist, but not too much as too drown the potatoes and not too little which would make the whole thing dry. Then sprinkle the whole thing with salt and pepper (to your taste) and put the pan aside.
- Cut the potatoes in an oven-dish and pour over the content of the pan. Gently mix everything.
- Now the cheese. It is a flat round cheese. Cut it in half so has to obtain two circles. Then put the circles over the potatoes, crusty-side looking up (so that the cheesy middle melts on the potatoes).
Place the whole thing in the oven for a good 15 to 20 minutes (until it looks nicely melted and you cannot wait anymore to try it). And then serve! Some people don't like eating the crust, but it is edible and I think it adds a slightly crispy touch to the decadent melting dish.
It does taste nice with a white wine. Personnally I would go for a Riesling but I am no big wine drinker/judge.