If you can’t afford truffles, you indulge in truffade, say the inhabitants of the Auvergne, notoriously among the coldest and most rugged areas of France. Often served with sausages, truffade is a potato cake flavored with bacon and laden with cheese as a buttress against the worst weather. Nippy Cantal is the local hard cheese, and Gruyère may be substituted.–Anne Willan
LC Pan It Note
Senior tester Dan Kraan suggests using a deep 10-inch nonstick pan with reasonably high sides for optimal results. You will need an 11-inch pan if shallow.
French Potato Pancake Recipe
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes | Serves 4
- 5-ounce piece lean bacon, cut into lardons (see Note)
- 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
- 2 pounds baking potatoes, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 8 ounces Cantal or Gruyère cheese, diced or cut into thin, narrow strips
- 1. To make the potato pancake recipe, heat the bacon lardons in a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat until the fat runs, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let them brown. Remove them with a draining spoon and set aside.
- 2. Melt the lard in the pan, add the potatoes, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. The bacon may contribute enough salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the lardons and continue to cook, uncovered, over low heat, tossing or stirring often, until the potatoes are tender and some are browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Don’t worry if some of them are crushed, as they will help hold the mixture in a cake.
- 3. Stir in the cheese, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Press down on the potatoes to level them in the pan. Turn the heat to high and let them cook without stirring until the bottom is browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Press on the cake occasionally to hold it together.
- 4. When done, the truffade should be brown around the edges and starting to pull from the sides of the pan. Take the pan off the heat, run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it, and then turn it out onto a warmed platter. Serve hot.
Note: Lardons are cut from a piece of slab bacon, or sometimes from other fatty pork cuts, and add meaty depth of flavor at low cost. To cut lardons, trim any rind from the bacon and cut into slices 3/8 inch thick. Stack the slices and cut crosswise into short strips.
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French Potato Pancake Recipe © 2007 Anne Willan. Photo © 2007 France Ruffenach. All rights reserved.