Recently I was watching Anthony Bourdain’s show, Parts Unknown, episode The French Alps (Season 10 Episode 1). It was one that also featured his friend Eric Ripert. In the show, they ski, they eat, they milk a cow, eat some more, ski, eat, and etc. At the restaurants on the mountain and in Chamonix, they enjoyed raclette, fondue, pan-seared foie-gras, seared veal with mushroom sauce, croûte aux morilles, and more.
At a restaurant above Chamonix, I observed the making of something I’ve never seen or heard of before – Farçon. It’s basically a potato cake with bacon, but also included prunes and raisins! It was made in a Bundt-like tall pan, cooked in a Bain Marie. I just had to find out more.
From Gourmetpedia I discovered this recipe, by Pierre Carrier, owner and chef of La Maison Carrier in the hotel Le Hameau Albert Ier, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. From Gourmetpedia.net, “This is a typical Savoyard recipe that varies from valley to valley. You’ll sometimes find it made with dried apples and a pinch of nutmeg. It is basically a potato cake with prunes, bacon and raisins. It provides meat (bacon), starch (potato) and dessert (fruit) all in one dish! It was traditionally a poor man’s dish, and while the family went to Mass in the village, the farçon cooked in a special tall pan with a central chimney.”
I couldn’t find an appropriate pan, so I used an old soufflé dish. It was recommended to serve the day it’s made or the next day, cut into thick slices and reheated in a skillet with a little butter, accompanied with a green salad.
That sounded like a perfect meal, and it was delicious.
Authentic Farçon from Chamonix
1 large onion
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces diced bacon
2 1/4 pounds potatoes
10 thin slices bacon
6 tablespoons cream
Salt and pepper
7 ounces dried prunes
2 ounces currants
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Peel and thinly slice the onion. Sweat the onion in a pan with the butter and the diced bacon. Cover the pan to help soften the onion. Notice I forgot to include the bacon!
Grate the raw potatoes. Line the bottom and sides of a cocotte or souffle dish with the slices of bacon.
Combine the potatoes, onion, bacon bits, cream, eggs, prunes and currants together. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour into the mold. Fold the bacon strips over the top.
Cover and cook in a water bath for 4 hours. Remove the Farçon from the oven and let rest 15 minutes before unmolding.
It sliced beautifully.
If you want to watch the funniest Parts Unknown, watch Sicily – Season 2, Episode 5. Hysterical.