Each one is worthy of its own post, but today I’m going to write about the one on the bottom left: Doré de l’Abbaye. It is a washed-rind cheese, so I expected it to be pretty strong and stinky. Not so. Very similar to Port Salut, it has a thin orange rind which is edible but not particularly tasty. The off-white cheese inside is semi-soft with a very mild stinky-cheese flavor. An entry-level washed-rind cheese, I would not hesitate to serve this one to newbies or people who are apprehensive about esoteric cheeses. The texture of it reminded us a bit of Monterey Jack, and we hoped that it might be a good cheese for melting.
Which brings me to the tartiflette-of-sorts. One of Nick’s colleagues (the one who told me about tartiflette to begin with) brought him a box of buckwheat pasta squares, which had a variation of the recipe on the back.
While I love the idea of pasta, cream, bacon and cheese baked together in a gooey, delicious mess, I thought I should attempt to sneak some vegetables into the dish, so as to make it a more complete meal. Considering the sauce is basically the famous bacon-onion dip, I figured I could bulk that up with a leek or two without drastically affecting the flavor. Then I saw the first winter squash display of the season. After much internal debate, I chose the patidou.
About the size of an acorn squash, the patidou has smooth flesh and a sweet, nutty flavor akin to butternut squash. I just knew it would be delicious in my tartiflette-like dish. So I peeled and diced it and sautéed it in butter until it started to brown.
I moved it to a bowl and used the same pan to start the bacon cooking for the sauce. When it had given up most of its magical fat, I added a large leek, sliced into little pieces, and let it soften and begin to caramelize. All this joined forces with a container of crème fraîche, and I set that aside for a moment, too.
Meanwhile, I was boiling water for the crozets. When they were ready, I drained them and poured them into the bowl with the patidou. I plopped the leek mixture on top and gently stirred it all together. Into my baking dish it went, and I topped it with the diced remains of the Doré de l’Abbaye (remember that?). A few minutes in the oven to heat it through and melt the cheese, and dinner was served.
As predicted, the cheese melted beautifully and melded wonderfully with the rest of the flavors in the dish. It may not have been traditional, but it was a hearty, warming meal for one of the first cold nights of autumn. Thanks, Sabine!
Originally published on Croque-Camille.