Friday, January 31, 2014

le reblochon

Last night I was "allowed" to make dinner. Well, I usually have to schedule my culinary excursions in advance as I live with a master chef. Winter is when I crave potatoes, and the hearty winter dishes of French country cuisine, of the Auvergne, the Savoie, Alps, The Pyrenees all involve local 
Tourte de Pomme de Terre!
cheeses, preserved pork products of one sort or another and potatoes. One of the local specialities in the Correze is tourte de pomme de terre. A hearty mix of potatoes, onions, eggs, cream and garlic with a little bit of lardon, cooked in a pie crust....J'adore ca! Better the next day. A great staple to take on a cold winters day outing in the woods cutting wood! I love a perfectly elastic aligot. Nothing more than mashed potatoes and Cantal cheese cooked slowly over a slow fire and mixed until it achieves the perfect consistency. You can pick
it up with a huge spoon and it is totally elastic! That will stick your scrawny ribs. But my favorite winter dish is made with potatoes and a cheese from the Savoie, Reblochon.  A relatively mild, but perhaps a little too stinky cheese for the tastes of most Americans. It is a soft cheese, with a washed, smear ripened rind. That is the technique for many of the cheeses of Eastern France. The cheeses are cured with salt water, sometimes with brandy or beer. The soft, moist exteriors of the cheese become the surface for the desired "smear bacteria" to colonize. This imparts the orangish coloration and the flavor penetrates from the outside rather than from the inside like white mold cheeses, like camembert. Other smear bacteria cheeses are Epoisses or real Muenster. Epoisses is cured with Marc...or brandy and Muenster is cured with salt water. Reblochon is cured with salt
le bon reblochon
water, develops an orangish rind, but because it is made in the mountains in relatively dry conditions, as it ages it develops a white frosting on the dry rind. I think it is a rather mild cheese, even at it's ripest stage. It has a very pronounced hay scent. The name Reblochon as with every name has a very interesting and specific origin.

Reblochon derives from the word 'reblocher' which when literally translated means 'to pinch a cow's udder again'. This refers to the practice of holding back some of the milk from the first milking. During the 14th century, the landowners would tax the mountain farmers according to the amount of milk their herds produced. The farmers would therefore not fully milk the cows until after the landowner had measured the yield. The milk that remains is much richer, and was traditionally used by the dairymaids to make their own cheese.
In the 16th century the cheese also became known as "fromage de dévotion" (devotional cheese) because it was offered to the Carthusian monks of the Thônes Valley by the farmers, in return for having their homesteads blessed.
Raw-milk Reblochon has not been available in the United States since 2004 due to the enforcement of laws concerning the pasteurization of soft and semi-soft cheese. Delice du Jura, a pasteurized soft ripened cheese is a close relative and a good substitute in the United States.
  The peak seasons for Reblochon is in the early summer and mid winter. So, one of the best things you can do with a
Last nights Tartiflette
Reblochon de Savoie is to make a hearty Tartiflette. That's what I did last night. It's pretty simple. I briefly parboil the potatoes on my wood burner in the fireplace. When they cool down I peal and slice them into an earthen ware baking dish. In another frying pan, I cut up some pieces of lardon...that's kind of like French bacon. I get it fresh from a local butcher and it's not too salty. If you do this with American bacon, I suggest cutting it up and boiling it for a few get rid of a lot of fat, the salt and a lot of the chemicals. Then lightly fry the lardons, add some sliced onions...when the onions get slightly cooked, I add a cup of dry white wine, let that boil and add some cream...or milk. I pour this mixture over the sliced potatoes, mix the onions and lardons into the potatoes and cover it all with slices of Rebochon cheese! Then it goes into the oven until it's all bubbly and the top begins to get a good color. It's too simple and I guarantee, no matter how good it is when it comes frsh out of the oven, it is better the day after.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say...
My tartiflette with fresh, undressed roquette on the side!
bon apetit, bien sur!


bj said...

YUM! I recall a similar recipe you made last year with pommes de terre et le fromage élastique ... s'is the same dish? Looks like it'd be goooood, too.

microdot said...

last year, I posted the recipe for l'aligote....but a ral tartiflette is one of my very favorite winter things!

bj said...

I'll send my address and postage if you'll mail me one of those ... that is ... if the Le Chef cuisinier will allow it. heh

Ol'Buzzard said...

I want to eat at your house.
the Ol'Buzzard