Tartiflette: the perfect match with Rhône red


Photograph: Piers Cunliffe

Photograph: Piers Cunliffe

The seasons may be turning, but there’s still time to squeeze in another hearty dish that will complement to the fruit and spice of a Rhône red. Tartiflette, French mountain cooking at its finest, is a comfort-food favourite of our chef Stewart Turner.

This month, I thought I would take inspiration from our current en primeur campaigns – in this case the Rhône – for my recipe. Looking at local regions is always the first place I start when matching food and wine, and Tartiflette is a brilliant specialty from the Rhône Alps and the Haute-Savoie.

This is my interpretation of the French classic: not a tart at all but a lovely potato dish that can be had on its own, or is great as a side dish. Think gratin dauphinoise with added va va voom… (“Impossible!” I hear you cry, “The greatest potato dish in the world – but only better?”) Oh yes. And in fact, while writing this, I have had a brainwave of adding a little seasonal wild garlic to the onion mix; it can only be a good thing.


1.2kg medium to large potatoes, peeled and sliced into 2mm-thick slices
2tbsp butter
Olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 sprigs of thyme, picked and chopped
200g smoked streaky bacon cut into thin strips
150ml dry white wine
300ml double cream
150ml milk
1 Reblochon cheese, diced
1 clove of garlic

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Rub the inside of a large ovenproof dish with a halved garlic clove then finely chop the other half.

Place the wine in a pan and reduce by half, then add the cream and milk. Bring to the boil season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add the potatoes and allow to simmer until the potatoes are half-cooked. Be careful that they do not stick to the bottom of the pan, then leave to cool a little.

While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon bits in a little olive oil until they start to brown, then add the onions, thyme, chopped garlic and butter. Continue to cook until the onions are soft and both are nicely golden. Allow to cool then add half the diced Reblochon and mix well.

Layer half the cooked potatoes in the gratin dish spooning over a little of the cream. Spread over the onion and bacon mix, then top with the remaining potatoes. Pour over enough cream to moisten the top, then finish with the remaining Reblochon.

Bake for half an hour, until the potatoes are cooked and it’s all lovely and golden. If you want, finish the dish under the grill for a really crisp finish. Serve with a bowl of salad, some walnut dressing and cornichons. You’re in for a treat.

What to drink with it
Simon Field MW, our Rhône buyer, has a couple of suggestions that he feels fit the “rustic and hearty” bill this dish requires. The first is a 2010 Vacqueyras Cuvee Floureto Cailloux at £19.95 per bottle, which he atmospherically describes as a “rugged, garrigue-scented brew”. His second choice is another 2010, this time a Côtes du Rhône Villages: Monier, Massif d’Uchaux, St Estève d’Uchaux. This, he ventures, has “ripe red-berried fruit”, set against a “spicy backdrop”, which should work wonderfully with the rich, flavourful cheese and cream.