Winter’s arrival in the Alps ushers in snow-filled days and chilly nights. There’s a palpable buzz of anticipation in the village with the start of the ski season and all the accompanying outdoor activities. For gourmets and gourmands, it also means comfort food abounds, dipping into the first fondue of the season or tucking into generous helpings of tartiflette after a snowy day of work or play.
But a lesser-known comfort food native to the Alps is the understated farcement; a delicious mix of sweet and savory flavors. It is a traditional Sunday supper. A winter dish that was left to cook over the fire while the family attended mass. Potatoes, salty bacon, sweet prunes and raisins, slow baked in a bain-marie, combine to bring warmth and richness on a plate. It isn’t a light dish and you’ll most definitely want to have spent some time outdoors before enjoying it. I’ve found that a nap regularly accompanies a too-hearty helping of farcement.
Each valley has their own adaptation of this dish. Even within Les Contamines, every family has their way of preparing it, handed down from generation to generation and adhered to with a nearly religious devotion. But for me, the mythical restaurateur, J.F. Bosson of the Savoisien, makes my favorite farcement. So I asked him if he wouldn’t mind teaching me and my friend, Aurore, his secret recipe. Now, you are invited too. Come and join us in Aurore’s kitchen ? !
You will need:
Place the lardons over medium heat with the butter. Peel the potatoes and the apple. Grate the apple and potatoes with a large grater.
In a large bowl, mix the grated potatoes, apple, cooked lardons, melted butter, prunes, raisins, crème fraiche and egg. Add a heavy-handed pinch of salt and generous sprinkling of pepper.
Line the farcement mold with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Lay the strips of bacon along the walls of the mold. Add a wreath of prunes at the bottom.
Once the mold is filled and packed down, place a sheet of parchment on the top and close the lid of the mold.
Place the copper mold in a pressure-cooker, or a large pot and fill the pot 3/4 with water. Let it cook covered for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, add water as needed. It is the perfect meal for a slow, snowy Sunday. It can be served as an accompaniment with a roast or on its own as the star of the meal.
Once cooked, open the mold and place it upside-down on a platter, remove the parchment paper and voilà! Serve in slices and share with friends and family after a good day on the hill.
What comfort foods will you be most eager to eat this winter?