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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Raclettiflette with Perfectly Steamed Potatoes

I haven't felt this feeling in a very very long time.. but today, all I wanted was some tartiflette.  Tartiflette is a traditional French casserole made with Reblechon cheese from the Savoy mountains.  It's typically eaten in the winter (unless you only visit France in the summer) and typically is what is served when you go on a ski-cation.  I don't know why, but I've always preferred making this with Raclette cheese.  Raclette is another cheese from the same region, but is usually served melted on potatoes instead of baked in a casserole.  My Raclettiflette is basically a Tartiflette, but with a different cheese.  Both ways are good, but I find Raclette cheese easier to lay into a rectangular pan.  I heard you can do this with St. Nectaire, my ultimate favorite cheese.. oooh.. tempting, but I can never  get around to cooking with that cheese since I eat most of it before my preparations can begin.
I've posted this recipe before, but it's been a while, and I've gotten better at seeking out good quality raw milk cheese.. and I've gotten better at making potatoes keep their natural taste through steaming instead of boiling.
Serves 6
1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) potatoes (about 10 large Bintje)
350g (12.3oz) salt-cured or smoked pork belly, sliced into bits
4 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil (just in case)
1/4 cup dry white wine
450g (1 lb) raclette cheese, sliced into 1/4" pieces (I used raw milk cheese)
4-5 Tbsp heavy cream
1.  Cook the potatoes.  To do this in the most optimal way, scrub them with the skin on, stab them a few times with a fork, then place them in the steamer basket of your pressure cooker.  Place about 1 inch of water (enough to steam but not touch the potatoes.)  Close the cooker and cook on high.  When it starts to whistle, count 15 minutes.  I cannot give measurements for any other type of steaming because I don't see any reason to use another tool for steaming potatoes.
When they are done, let the pressure drop from the cooker and open up to let cook just a touch.  When they are cool enough, peel them.  The skin should come off easily.
2.  While you are waiting for them to finish cooking or cool down, prepare the rest.  Place the sliced pork belly in a heavy based pan or wok and cook on high for a few minute until nicely colored.  Add the thyme and pepper during this part.  I was expecting the fat to render, but since this was good quality belly, the pan was quite dry.  Remove and reserve.
3.  In that same pan, add a bit of olive oil if your belly did not render any fat.  Add the shallots and cook until translucent, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
4.  Deglaze with the white wine and let simmer 2-3 minutes so the alcohol burns off.
5.  Add the cooked peeled potatoes to the mix.  Smash a bit with a potato masher.  They should smash easily.  You don't want mashed potatoes.  You want it chunky.  Mix it all well and turn off the heat.  You can preheat your oven to 200°C 400°F at this point.
6.  Assemble.  In a baking dish, place half the potato mixture in one layer.  
Spread 2 Tbsp cream over this layer.
Cover this layer with the raclette slices.
Repeat once.
7.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 200°C 400°F.  The result should be bubbly and golden as mine is. 
8.  This is the hardest step.  Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.  It needs time to set just a bit. If you don't wait, it will be too hot to eat anyway.
Serve with some salad.

This is the best version I've made of this so far.  A good piece of meat with good quality cheese and shallots instead of onions are the small simple changes that go a long way.
I don't indulge like this very often, so this is my coma meal of the month.. enjoy =)

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