Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

The most royal of tartiflettes

Ordinarily, I am inclined towards an indignation bordering on huffing, when one of the little humans doesn’t adore a dish I’ve served up. Ordinarily, that is…

On Tuesday of last week though, when the littlest human in the house, one Anna Theresa Devlin, turned her button nose up at baked Jersey Royals covered in cheese, I was on the cusp of displeasure when a voice inside me shouted, “Shut up, you fool! There will be left-overs!”

Tossed in olive oil and seasoned, these baked jersey Royals were further seasoned with sea salt, pepper, a little butter and grated cheddar after they exited the oven. And with the addition of some chopped spring onions and a dollop of mayo, they were the culinary highlight of my week.

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I realise of course, that this is tantamount to an annual column on Jersey Royals, but I don’t care. I might even go so far as to say that Jersey Royals are my favourite (waxy) potato. Slightly sweet, nutty and above all, earthy, even their scent after boiling or steaming is enough to make my mouth water. *schlurp*

However on Tuesday, as I was savouring Anna Theresa’s remaining mini baked Jerseys, I wondered what could make the dish even better. What could elevate my appreciation of Jersey Royals to another level, a celestial level where angels sing and then weep in appreciation? The answer of course, is bacon.

I know for a fact that I’ve included a recipe for tartiflette in these columns at some stage over the years, but I also know, I’d never made modern classic from the Savoie region with Jersey Royals until Sunday night past. You might say this recipe is a break from the traditional tartiflette. Instead of Roblochon cheese, I use Gruyere and I also use garlic, which I think gives the dish added oomph.

I like to think of this dish as a dauphinoise for the next generation, ie us. You could have it alongside an extra veg like asparagus or broccoli or even peas but with just a sprinkling of chopped spring onions, you’ll be praying that at least one younger member of the family turns their nose up.

The following recipe is more than enough for two adults and two little humans. But the more you make, the more you’ll eat. Trust me on this. It’s even great cold.

INGREDIENTS
250g of smoked bacon, lardons or streaky rashers, chopped
tbsp of butter
1 onion, finely sliced
1 big garlic clove, grated
1kg of Jersey Royals, washed and boiled until just tender and then sliced, thickly
salt and pepper
200ml of double cream
lots of grated Gruyere
chopped spring onions

THE PLAN
As your spuds are steaming or boiling in their skins (never peel Jersey Royals), put the bacon lardons into a DRY frying pan and stir fry until the fat is rendered out and they’re starting to crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving any rendered fat in the pan. To the same pan, add half of butter along with the onions, and sweat until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more and then add all of this pungent mixture to the bacon. When the spuds are tender, drain and allow to cool slightly. Then cut into thick slices.
Add the remaining butter to the pan and then lay on as many of the Jersey slices that the pan will allow. Fry over a medium to high heat, turning delicately from time to time, until the spuds start to take on a bit of colour, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. You’ll probably have to do this in two batches, unless you have a massive frying pan. When all the spuds are coloured, mix through the bacon-y, onion-garlic mixture and then retire to a casserole dish or large oven-proof bowl, which you have cunningly greased with a little nip of butter.
Pour over the double cream and them top the lot with lots and lots of the Gruyere. It’s definitely a case here of the more, the merrier and in hindsight (check picture above), I should have used more.
Bake in a pre-heated oven (200˚C) for about ten to 15 minutes, until the cream is bubbling up the sides and the cheese on top has coloured golden brown. Now all you have to do is divide your royal tartiflette into bowls, sprinkle with chopped spring onions and dive in. Warning! Like the aforementioned angels, you may be tempted to sing and then weep.

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