Monday, January 25, 2010

All the Melted Cheeses

This week's email is the first of two odes to melted cheese. Yes, it moves us to poetry. Only a select few science-types know for sure what magical alchemy makes it so wonderful; the rest of us are content to go with our collective gut. Of this we are certain... melted cheese ranks pretty dang high on the comfort food scale, and what could be better in the dead of winter than a little cheesy reassurance? Enclosed in this week's email is a sure fire way to get a little bit of molten cheese on your dinner table. A culinary character known by the French as Tartiflette, done up American style! (cue theme song to Deliverance...)

Tartiflette, a Savoyard dish of much gluttonous renown, was something that was always on my gustatory radar. After all, it involves four of my most favorite foods in the world: lardons (i.e. delicious fatty bacon), potatoes, onions, and cheese. For our Saxelby Cheesemongers post-holiday shindig this year, Benoit (co-owner and resident expert on all French culinary traditions) whipped up not one, but two heaping, gooey casserole dishes of some of the finest Tartiflette on record. But instead of using the traditional Reblochon, we split open a coupla wheels of Oma, a raw milk cheese made at the VonTrapp Farmstead in Waitsfield, Vermont. Looking back, it might have been wise to have some EMT personnel in the neighborhood just in case one of our guests went into an overly cheesed state. But I guess white wine is as good an insurance policy as any...

Here's how to melt up your own delicious Tartiflette:

Ingredients:
2 1/2 lb potatoes
1/2 lb thick sliced bacon
1 onion
1 wheel Oma
2 tbsp creme fraiche
1 bottle (or more!) crisp white wine

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Peel and boil potatoes until cooked but not overly soft.

Mince onion and sweat in olive oil for a few minutes.

Add finely chopped bacon to the onions and sweat a few minutes more.

Butter the bottom of a casserole dish.

Cut potatoes in thick slices (about 1 inch thick) and cover the bottom of the pan. This should use about half of the potatoes.

Cover potatoes with half of the onion and bacon mixture.

Add remaining potatoes and spread creme fraiche on top.

Cut the cheese in half lengthwise so that you have 2 thin circles of cheese. Place the halves of cheese on top of the potatoes and pour a glass of white wine on top.

Bake in the oven 20-30 mins until the cheese melts and begins to brown on top.

Carve up, serve, and attempt not to pass out from sheer joy.

Stay tuned next week for the second wonder of the melted cheese world... Raclette!

Till next week, eat (melted) cheese and be merry!

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