How to prepare tartiflette

The impression you get up here in the mountains of Haute Savoie, France is that the classic dish consumed by the locals since time immemorial is tartiflette.

10664 Tartiflette, Janet, Balaena 17 Jan 12

However, this dish was was developed in the 1980s by the Union Interprofessional Reblochon to promote sales of the local eponymous cheese! This modern recipe was inspired by a truly traditional dish called péla: a gratin of potatoes, onions and cheese made in a long-handled pan called pelagic (shovel).

I have enjoyed tartiflette in many local restaurants, always using different recipes. So when Janet stayed with us last week I watched how she prepared her version of it – thank you Janet!

Continue reading

Pork with sage and Italian Barbera

Some plants seem to thrive in the Chalet Balaena garden, such as alpine strawberries (hardly a surprise…), chives, oregano, marjoram and sage. Lots of sage. When friends came for lunch the other day, on seeing the abundant sage, Christiane told us of a local recipe for pork stuffed and roasted with this aromatic herb.


I searched for the recipe and discovered a good version on a fine blog called My French Cuisine, which is subtitled “French recipes… cooked up in California”. It is one of the joys of the internet together with the power of Google etc that one often finds what one wants a very long way from where you’d expect.

Julia Child started something when she learnt to cook in France and wrote her detailed book: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which introduced the delights of good food to the USA, as did Elizabeth David to an undernourished, unglamorous post war Great Britain.

Sage pork roast

for 4 people (+ leftovers for cold sandwiches):

  • 2 pound pork roast (boneless shoulder)
  • To stuff the pork roast:
    • 12 fresh sage leaves
    • salt and Cayenne pepper
  • To spread on the outside:
    • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • salt and Cayenne pepper
  • To pour in the roast pan:
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons water
  • To make a sauce once it’s cooked:
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • juice of 1 lemon

Now follow these easy steps:

  1. Preheat the oven at 190C/380F.
  2. Stuff the roast: if the roast is tied, remove the string or elastic net. Place 8 sage leaves inside the roast (you might need to cut the meat “horizontally”). Add salt and pepper inside the roast, then tie it up with kitchen twine (or string).
  3. Pour the olive oil and water in an oven-safe pan.
  4. Spread Dijon mustard on all sides of the roast and place it in the pan. Sprinkle salt and Cayenne pepper all over the roast.
  5. Place the 4 remaining sage leaves in the oil around the roast.
  6. Bake for at least 45 minutes at 190C/380F.
  7. While you are slicing the roast on a cutting board, pour the lemon juice and honey in the roast pan. Mix with the pork juice. Put the pan back in the oven while you finish slicing the meat. Pour this sauce on the meat before serving.

Apart from my heavy handedness with the Cayenne pepper this was a juicy roast pork expressing the sage notes, pointed up by the honeyed sweetness in the sauce. Thank you, My French Cuisine!

800615 Barbera d'Asti Sciorio 2004, Balaena Chinaillon 29 Aug 10

We decided that a robust Italian red would be just the wine so Wink opened a bottle of Sciorio Barbera d’Asti 2004 that we’d bought when we visited Beppe Sciorio last year at his small winery in Costigliole d’Asti, Piemonte.

Tasting Note: Deep, dark ruby. Initially closed on the nose so Wink double decanted the wine. An hour later and with our meal of pork roasted with sage and a touch of mustard and cayenne pepper, the wine swung into life. Deep, dark cherry fruit on the nose continued on to the palate with robust tannins which were covered up by the spicy dish. Good fruit on the finish which was fairly long. A big wine with 14% alcohol and needs a year or two to be fully mature – hence the double decanting to open it up.

Sage pork and moonblush tomatoes

I’ve gassed the bottle and look forward to tasting what is left (not a lot) tomorrow with the cold pork, which will also have different flavours!

How would you use a surfeit of sage? And which wine do you prefer with roast pork? Do comment!