Tartiwhat? Tartiflette I say…. I first had this dish in a small motel while training a school recently. The motel to be honest is not the most up market affair but that is easily made up for the by lady who pretty much runs everything. She always seems absolutely upbeat and is happy to kindly rib her guests- she just seems to be a glass half full person. One night I got in a little late and asked what the special was. Tartiflette I was informed and after a brief description was none the wiser. However on arrival it proved to be superb comfort food. A little research seems to indicate this simple dish is not as well known as many other French dishes but seems to be gaining popularity. It’s simple to make and here is my take….
Potatoes – any that don’t fall apart on boiling and are a good size.
Reblochon Cheese – make the effort to find it!
Onion- one good size
Cream-small tub
Garlic Clove
400g Bacon (mmmmmmmmm bacon!)
Salt and pepper

Peel about 750 grams of potatoes and slice-not too thin and not too thick (how’s that for specific? OK try 1/4inch). Please no comments on mixing units! Put on the boil in salted water for 10 to 15 minutes. Basically cook them quite well through but not so they fall apart and have a bit of firmness. At the same time dice a good sized onion and sweat in some butter and a dash of olive oil. Do not brown the onions. Add 200g to 400g of bacon lardons and fry off gently with the onions with a glove of chopped garlic. As ever avoid pinching all the bacon here. 400g is for those who love bacon and have a weak will. Take a shallowish non metallic baking dish and butter it. Layer potatoes on the base and place some of the onion and bacon mix on top. Take half a reblochon cheese and dice it up roughly- rind and all. Put some of the cheese on top to the potatoes, onions and bacon. Season lightly. Repeat the layers. Drizzle some cream over the dish – a small tub should do as it does not want to be too “liquidy“. Pop in a preheated oven for 20mins or so at 200 degC. Top should crisp up nicely as should the top potatoes if you got the liquid right.
Enjoy! Simple and superb….

A Monday Valentine’s Dinner

Many will do their Valentine’s celebrations this weekend but if you don’t get around to it, or if you don’t even care for Valentine’s, here is a simple Monday dinner to prepare. A whole golden roasted chicken on the table makes it a feast and there is the sensual element of picking at the bits of meat. Roast potatoes make it grand enough and I don’t see any reason to bother with additional vegetables.
The chicken need to be of good quality to get the bits of fat from the inside of the breast cavity needed for this technique which I learned from Nigella Lawson’s Schmalzy Chicken recipe. Once you have oiled and seasoned the bird you can either truss the bird so the wings are tucked in or plan on strategically placing your potatoes around the bird so that the same effect is achieved.
There is a lot of garlic here which might turn some people off but garlic has long been considered to have aphrodisiac qualities. Also if you both eat some then you’re on even ground.
For dessert here is Susan Spungen’s little-black-dress cake, a delicious simple cake that doesn’t require the additional step of frosting. The instructions say to use a wooden spoon for creaming the butter and sugar, but a standing mixer with a paddle does the job quicker. Be aware that the cake will go from not cracked at all to cracked in no time so keep an eye on it toward the end.

Roast Chicken with Garlic and Rosemary and Potatoes

1 whole free range chicken
2 russet potatoes
10 cloves of garlic with skin on
1/2 lemon
Olive oil

Boil a large pot of salted water. Heat oven to 450F.
Peel and slice potatoes into triangular slices about two inches across thickest bit. Place in a large bowl of cold water and rinse until water is no longer cloudy. Rinse and put in boiling water. Boil for 4 minutes. Drain in colander and put back into pot. Cover with lid and shake pot so edges of potato break up. Take off lid so potatoes can continue to dry.
Remove fat from inside chicken cavity. Place over medium heat in small saucepan and cook until it releases all of its fat and you are left with the crispy bits of grieben, which if you are adventurous you can eat, or just stick it back in the chicken’s cavity.
While the fat is melting cover the bottom of a roasting pan with a generous coating of olive oil and place it in the oven. Allow it to get hot but not smoke.
Rub olive oil, salt, and pepper inside the chicken. Stuff with four cloves of garlic, 3 sprigs of rosemary, and the lemon half. Rub the outside of the bird both over and under the skin with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Place the chicken in the middle. Surround with potatoes, garlic, and rosemary. Put the hot melted fat over the chicken. Cook for fifteen minutes. Baste. Turn oven temperature down to 375F. Baste every fifteen minutes. It should take about 1 hour. If the chicken is finished before the potatoes are nice and golden remove it from the pan and finish the potatoes. Immediately salt potatoes when they are finished. Let the chicken rest in a tent of foil for 15 minutes before slicing.