When my son, L.J. and I were recently in Lyon for the Bocuse d’Or we had the distinct honor, luck and pleasure to have been invited for dinners not once, but twice at the home of my friends Lucy and Loic. Lucy Vanel, who I know from my eGullet days, in addition to being a wonderful person, outstanding writer and fine photographer, is a very gifted cook. She has attained status as a French Patissier – no mean feat for an American ex-pat living in Lyon, the erstwhile capitol of French gastronomy – and has opened Plum Lyon, a bakery and cooking school below her home on Presqu’ile. Located on the slopes of the Croix Rousse neighborhood, the school is in one of the most atmospheric and food friendly parts of this food-mad city.
On a cold, clear Monday evening, my son and I walked across Lyon to Plum, where we were welcomed into a wonderful kitchen and dining space warmed with a hearty fire.
Lucy was just beginning to prepare her meal – a wonderful dish from the Savoie, the nearby mountainous gateway to the Alps. We washed our hands and began peeling and cutting the potatoes for the Tartiflette under Lucy’s direction. We also greased a couple of gratin pans with duck fat and crushed garlic.
In the meantime, Lucy was cooking onions and bacon on the stove and had sliced some mountain Reblochon cheese in half down its center and then into quarters.
She assembled all the ingredients in the gratin pans and put them in the oven.
While that was cooking we enjoyed some Gesú, a fresh salami, that my son and I had bought from the Traiteur below the apartment we had rented. It felt so good to be sitting and relaxing here.
A short while later, Lucy brought the first Tartiflette to the table and we dug in. This was surely heaven! The flavors were rich, deep and pure. This was comfort food at its absolute best – calories be damned! Neither my son nor I could get enough. This was so good and Lucy was kind enough to allow me to republish her recipe here. It as originally published on her wonderful blog, Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook.
- 5 medium potatoes, the waxy variety
- 1 medium onion
- 200 grams (6 oz) smoke and salt cured pork in any combination: poitrine fumé or the best smoked bacon you can find, smoked bacon plus salt cured Savoie ham or Southern style country cured ham. Just get what’s the best
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons fat: butter or duck
- 1/3 cup crème fraiche epaisse or heavy whipping cream if you don\'t have creme fraiche
- 1/2 cup dry white Savoie type wine
- 1/2 of a Reblochon de Savoie
- fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices.
- Roughly chop the onion.
- Heat the duck fat in a heavy skillet and add the onions, bacon and ham, and sauté gently for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and continue to sauté for 5 more minutes.
- Add the wine, give the potatoes a stir, cover, season with salt and pepper as desired, and let simmer and steam in the wine for 10 minutes more.
- Grease the gratin pan with duck fat, crush the garlic clove, and rub the garlic clove all over the inner surface of the pan.
- Reserve the remaining garlic for another use (the vinaigrette for the accompanying salad, for example).
- Add the crème fraiche to the potato onion bacon mixure, and transfer it to the gratin pan.
- Slice the Reblochon in half with a sharp knife flat wise, and place the two pieces on top of the potatoes, rind side up.
- Place into the very hot oven and bake for 10 minutes at 250C or 550F
- Turn the heat down to 200C / 400F and bake 10 more minutes
- Turn off the oven, and leave the dish in the oven without opening it for another 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with a salad, crusty bread, and the the wine you cooked with.
- Serves 4.
For more photos, please see the Flick’r Photoset.