Savory Sensations


For four very hungry people (or six polite eaters) you will need:

1 kilo of potatoes, preferably a variety that is slightly floury
300 g of cubed smoked bacon or ham (lardons will work just fine)
2 large diced yellow or white onions
400 g of mixed grated mountain cheeses (Emmental, Gruyere, Comte and so on are obvious choices, but you should also include some soft cheeses too such as Reblochon and Monte, which can be sliced thinly instead of grating – this dish is in fact best with more soft cheese than hard, but it is not a rule set in stone)
a handful of shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup of white wine
400ml cream
a clove of garlic
olive oil, salt and pepper

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into egg sized pieces. pieces. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the potatoes, bring back to the boil and simmer for 15 mins. They should still be firm enough to slice when ready. When they are cooked, drain and leave until needed.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat enough olive oil in a non-stick pan to gently sauté the diced onion. When the onion is soft and starting to colour, add the bacon or ham and cook through gently for 5 – 7 minutes.
  3. When the onions and meat are cooked, add the cup of white wine and half the cream, stirring and simmering at a heat that reduces and thickens the sauce.
  4. Add 100 g of the mixed cheese to the mixture and stir in well as it bubbles. You’re almost making a cheese fondue here with some bits in it! Season to taste with the salt and pepper. At this stage children may now appear and lay siege to the pan with pieces of bread – resist them at all costs!
  5. Take a large oven-proof dish and wipe it out with a cut half of the garlic clove. Then butter the dish slightly if you wish. Slice the potatoes 1cm thick and cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of them. With a slotted spoon lift out the onions and meat and place them on top of the potatoes. Then cover this with half of the sauce left in the pan and another 100g of the mountain cheese mix.
  6. Arrange the rest of the potatoes on top, and pour over the rest of the sauce, followed by the remainder of the cream, and then scatter the shredded cheddar on top of that.
  7. Cook in a hot oven at 190C/375F until golden brown on top. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of wine, promising yourself that you’ll eat a mass of vegetables only for dinner!

If you do want something on the side, peas are a great favourite, and leeks are a wonderful accompaniment too.