Sunday, 15 January 2012

Recipe - Tartiflette or hammed up potato dauphinoise …

It’s January, and summer holidays in France are a little way off, so it must be time for a winter warming French style recipe.

I first had delicious rich creamy and very calorific potato dauphinoise in a mountain hut when skiing as a teenager.  When you’re skiing it’s OK to have a pound of potatoes to a pint of cream!  Now older, rounder and still a potato daupinoise lover I thought (as I had left over half-fat crème fraîche from Christmas, past it’s use by date) I’d try a slightly healthier experiment.  As I had boiled a small smoked ham yesterday and had leftovers, I decided to mix that in too to make a little go a long way and keep the meat lovers in the family happy.  To make it a one pot (well not quite) meal a large leek was also added.

So my doctored hammy leeky potato dauphinoise is a tasty, delicious, filling but not too fattening meal (if using half fat crème fraîche) for all the family in January or any time of year.  Leave out the ham, and substitute onion for the leek in the summer and serve as an accompaniment to barbecued meat or even just a crunchy salad. I do like a meal in the oven that can be left whilst you sip on a pineau des Charentes catching the evening sun. Often us Brits think cheese should be in this dish, traditionally it’s not included but it’s also very good with grated cheddar, emmental and/or parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, especially if hamless.

You will need (to serve 6)

About 1kg medium potatoes, peeled, sliced with a mandolin (be careful!) or finely with a knife, and rinsed in a colandar.  Keep in water if it is taking a while or preparing ahead.
A large leek sliced finely and rinsed, or use a large diced onion.
2 cloves garlic, chopped.
About 3-500ml Milk (will be discarded or use for a white sauce for another dish, doesn’t matter what type)
600ml half fat crème fraîche (or full fat or use double cream)
Diced cooked ham or lardons if liked
Salt and pepper, paprika if liked

Pre heat oven to 180deg fan (200 deg for WS non fan oven)

1 Put the sliced potatoes in a large pan and add the milk, which should just about cover the potatoes but if you’re a bit short don’t panic.  Gently lift the potatoes a bit with a slotted spoon to make sure they are separated and bring to the boil over a medium flame with the lid on, don’t disappear!
2 Simmer very gently for 5-8 minutes or so, stirring/turning very carefully half way through.  You only want to par boil them, they shouldn’t break up.
3 Grease a large lasagne type oven proof dish and layer up half the sliced potatoes.  Remove the potatoes from the cooking milk with the slotted spoon, carefully, no need to drain properly or dry. Then add half the leeks (or onion), ham and garlic and a good grinding of pepper and sprinkle of salt.  As crème fraîche is very thick, spoon half on now spreading evenly.  If using cream just add when assembled.
4 Repeat finishing with the rest of the crème fraîche, or all of the cream and dot the top with butter.
5 Sprinkle with paprika if using.
6 Bake for 30-40 mins on a baking tray to catch any overflow, the top should be starting to brown. Now turn down the oven to 160 degrees fan (180 non fan) and stir very gently/push the mixture down a bit to make sure it’s cooking evenly and the top isn’t drying out and the cream is throughout the layers and not just sitting on top.  Bake for another 20-30mins, cover with foil if too brown and the potatoes are not quite done.
7 When cooked a sharp knife goes in to the potatoes without any resistance at all, and the top is crispy but never burnt!  This dish will keep happily in a low oven for a while before serving, put a bit of foil on top if over browning.
8 I served with roast butternut squash cooked on another tray for the last half an hour, but any roasted veg would be delicious.

Bon Ap!!!!

Apologies for the photo, as is normal in this house I decided to write up the recipe once we had taste tested as it was my own take on various recipes.  The secret to getting the potatoes to cook without drying out is simmering in the milk first, even if it seems a little wasteful. I can’t remember which chef advocates cooking the potatoes in milk to reduce the starch, but credit to him/her, not me!

I try and add a French inspired recipe to the blog regularly that is easy to prepare on holiday at White Shutters in the large well equipped cooks’ kitchen, or at home if your French gite holiday is a while off yet.  All the cooking equipment and large baking dishes required for up to 12 are available at White Shutters to rustle this up on holiday for a crowd.

Edited to add that this is basically Tartiflette, I had no idea it had a proper name,and tartiflette does have lumps of cheese in it too!  Thanks to my friend Susan in Brittany for the culinary education.

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