A product of a 1980’s marketing campaign by the Reblochon cheese producers, La Tartiflette season is once again upon us. So easily described as traditional, this delicious concoction of the Haute Savoie region of Alpine France is a dieters nightmare but a skiers delight.

The mountain town of Thônes is the centre of Reblochon production and where the cheese is manufactured in quantity at local cooperatives. Reblochon was first made during the 13th Century when the farmers were obliged to pay a fee to the grazing-land owner, this amount levied proportional to the quantity of milk produced. In order to reduce the full payment, farmers deliberately under-milked their cattle to return later for a second, clandestine milking which was locally called the reblochi.

Classified as a soft washed-rind cheese, Reblochon is produced from unpasturised cow’s milk, maturing to a nutty tasting creamy cheese. Each disc weighs around 500g and is aged in airy cellars for around 8 weeks, developing just a mere whisper of outer white mould. Typically, because this cheese melts so well it is used as a topping for potatoes and vegetables but is equally delicious as a cheeseboard component.

Tartiflette, prepared from potatoes, bacon, onions, cream and Reblochon cheese then accompanied by charcuterie and green salad this is not a dish for the faint-hearted but, this is a truly wonderfully warming winter-time dish for convivial dining. The quantities are easily scaled to feed a table full of hungry friends and family though I have also prepared a light version replacing potatoes with sliced endive (chicory) and makes a tasty alternative.

To serve 4

  • 800g potatoes, peeled, rinsed and boiled for 20 minutes then chunked into large pieces
  • 3 onions, roughly chopped and sautéed to soft in a little butter
  • 200g lardoons (bacon cubes), sautéed in a little butter
  • 50 ml of crème fraiche
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 Reblochon cheese of about 500g

Preheat the oven to 180c.

In a mixing bowl, gently mix together the potatoes, onions and bacon with the crème fraiche and season with a pinch of sea salt then tip the medley into a shallow ovenproof dish, spreading evenly.

Next, cut the Reblochon cheese in half through its circumference, both outer crusts remaining whole and intact then place, crust upwards, on top of the mixture and bake for about 20 minutes after which the cheese will have melted and the crusts are gratinée.

Serve with a crisp green salad and a selection of cooked meats and salami.