Bacon and Cantal Cheese Clafoutis Recipe

Clafoutis au Bacon et au Cantal

[Bacon and Cantal Cheese Clafoutis]

Clafoutis is originally a fruit dessert from the Limousin, a region roughly in the center of France (and yes, I checked, as I am direly geographically challenged).

Let me go ahead and open a parenthesis here. Limousin is renowned in part for its cattle breed, a milk-chocolate cow called la vache limousine, a rather unimaginative but quite sensible name. I’m sure you’ll be as fascinated as I was to learn that this cow is fed, of all things, on topinambours topinambour meaning Jerusalem artichoke, and being a French word I particularly favor, as should you. It is this diet, in addition to its favorable genetic characteristics, that explains the superior taste and quality of la vache limousine.

Back to the clafoutis (alternately spelled without the “s”) : it is the epitome of the grandmotherly dessert, and involves baking fruit (most typically cherries, but also plums, apricots, and pretty much any fruit) in a batter made of eggs, milk, sugar and flour. Some recipes also include butter, cream or oil. As a side note, true Clafoutis aux Cerises fans claim that it is much, much tastier if you leave the cherry stones in : the cherry juice will not leak into the batter, and the cherries will have more flavor if they cook with their little heart. It just makes the eating slightly less convenient (be sure to warn your guests!), but the best dishes are often the ones you have to fight for.

Have you noticed this trend lately, which consists in composing a savory dish in the style of a dessert, and naming the dish after that dessert? Amazing how instantly appetizing and tempting it makes the dish : salmon crumble, tomato tarte tatin, mushroom muffin, herb financier, goat cheese charlotte, eggplant mille-feuille, my broccoli and cornmeal upside down cake… And here, this bacon and cantal clafoutis!

I had long wanted to reproduce a similar dish I had had at the restaurant “Le Réconfort”, where I was dining one night with my friend Sophie. I decided to put it on my birthday party menu, and made up the recipe based on a couple other savory clafoutis recipes I had in my files. Next time I may double the recipe or at least 150% it, but below is what I used exactly.

The result looked very appetizing, slightly puffy with a thin golden crust on top. I served it at room temperature (it did deflate a bit upon cooling down), cut in one-inch squares. I liked it very much, with its rich texture and flavorful bite, all fluffy batter, cheese bits and crunchy pieces of bacon. Judging by the speed at which it disappeared, I probably wasn’t the only one.

Of course, if you look at it with cold, objective eyes, you could say that this is really a crustless quiche, but I believe in the magic of words, and a clafoutis will always taste better than a simple quiche, no?

[Le Réconfort – 37 rue de Poitou – 75003 Paris – 01 49 96 09 60]

Clafoutis au Bacon et au Cantal

– 4 eggs
– 20 cl whipping cream
– 100 g ricotta
– 100 g bacon, sliced thinly (note to my French readers : in France, ask for “poitrine fumée”, as asking for “bacon” will in fact get you what’s called Canadian bacon in the US, round slices of smoked ham)
– 100 g cantal, or other crumbly, sharp-tasting cheese
– 50 g flour
– 1/2 C milk
– salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F), and grease a medium porcelain gratin dish.

In a small skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels, then cut in small squares. Crumble the cantal in small pieces.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, whipping cream and ricotta. Add in the flour, whisking continuously as you pour it in. Pour in the milk, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Season with pepper and a little salt. Do not add too much salt as the bacon and cheese are already quite salty.

Arrange the bacon and cantal pieces evenly in the dish, and pour in the egg mixture slowly so as not to disturb them too much : you want them to stay evenly distributed.

Put the dish into the oven to bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is puffy and golden. Serve immediately or at room temperature — it would be nicely complemented by a salad dressed with walnut oil.

  • Wow! I got hungry when I saw the picture and hungrier with the description. Sigh!

  • cheesy chilaquiles

    What a timely suggestion. I recently tried a cheese, new to me, that I have wanted to incorporate into a tart or somesuch. My first impulse was to use it in a quiche with a hazelnut crust but this will be just the ticket. The cheese is a bit gimmicky but tastes great. It is Stilton with apricots. Any time a cheese is with “anything”, I have my doubts about it – but this one has its charms. Thanks, Clotilde. I look forward to my Bacon, Stilton & Apricot Clafoutis.

  • Cows fed on Jerusalem artichoke! I am also fascinated by that. Lucky cows!

  • Sylvie

    Le topinambour était, avec le rutabaga, un des rares légumes qu’on trouvait en France pendant la guerre. Pas étonnant que les gens s’en soient vite dégoutés, si c’est du fourrage pour les vaches !

  • Meg

    I’m back after a bit of a hiatus. . and I have to comment that I myself have been on a reverse trend, that is making sweet pastries with the same technique as savory ones. . . I made an apricot quiche! Which was really just an apricot clafouti in a pastry crust, I guess. . . ;->

  • What a wonderful recipe! I make a mean apricot clafoutis, but I think the time has come to branch out into the brave new world of savoury clafoutis… Thanks for sharing!

  • Patrick

    Cows fed on Jerusalem artichokes… According to my APE (The Axolotl’s Popular Etymology, a superb reference book for all lovers of language), the expression “Holy cow!” is directly derived from the vache limousine’s staple diet. :-)

  • max

    Belated comment: the French “topinambour” comes from the name of a Brasilian tribe exhibited in Paris in 1613, the same year that Champlain brought the plants to France from North America, where they are native. No less illogically, the English “jerusalem artichoke” is a corruption of the Italian “girasole” — they are sunflowers, Helianthus tuberosus.

  • Karen

    I would love to try this recipe, however I am not certain what 2 cl of whipping cream means. Do you mean 2 dl?? or TBSPs??

  • Karen – “cl” is short for centiliter, which is a 100th of a liter: 20 cl = 200 ml = 2 dl ~= 3/4 C !

  • This looks fabulous! I wonder if you could use a lower fat milk in lieu of the whipping cream … I am thinking of making a vegetarian version with cheese and perhaps spinach or swiss chard.

  • What an unbelievable dish. Your depth of knowledge regarding the ingredients you use is very admirable. I love the idea and cannot wait to make my first savory Clafoutis! With cheese bacon and eggs anyone in the Southern United States would ask, “how can one go wrong with such a combination” This should beat a biscuit or buttermilk scone containing the same combo by a long shot!

  • Shruti

    Hi Clotilde – I just made a keto version of this with my fingers crossed! It looks and tastes Dee-luscious! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I’ve been looking for new egg and cheese dishes for a while!

    For the keto (low carb, high fat) version

    – use 5 instead of 4 eggs
    – substitute 50 g of flour with 50 g coconut flour
    – leave out the milk
    – add 10-20 ml extra cream

    Also, I didn’t have bacon so I subbed with crispy fatty ham. Also subbed cantina with an apricot Stilton.

    • That’s wonderful to hear, Shruti, thank you! And I wasn’t familiar with the ketogenic diet, so thanks for broadening my nutrition horizon. If it’s not too personal, can you share why you’re following it?

      • Shruti

        Hi Clotilde – I’m happy to share my reasons for doing the ketogenic diet. Basically, in the last 10 years there has been research that: (a) authoritatively topples the old notion that saturated fats (butter, lard, etc) are heart unhealthy; and (b) proves based on biochemistry that carbs (particularly sugar) is toxic for the body in large quantities and contributes to metabolic syndrome. In fact, carbs and not fats, lead to obesity.

        The point of the keto diet is to eat very low carbs (mostly from veggies, meat and fatty dairy), adequate protein and high fat. With this diet, fat is used as an efficient body fuel without muscle wastage.

        And it is amazing, because I am eating some of the tastiest food on this diet without feeling hungry all the time.

        PS. A documentary called Fed Up is releasing in the US on 9 May. It deals with the carb issue. I’m sure it will screen in France, if you’re interested.

        • Thank you Shruti, that’s most interesting! I have read some about the Paleo diet, which follows the same kind of reasoning.

          It is giving me much food for thought, and in recent years I have come to understand how little one can trust the nutritional recommendations that we grew up with and that official authorities continue to peddle. I now believe in a much more individual, find-your-own-path approach to nutrition.

          I have heard about Fed Up too, and I am very eager to see it!

  • Shruti

    In fact I’ve been going through all your recipes to see how I can “keto-fy” them.

    I luuuurrrrrrrrve your Roasted cauliflower a la Marie Celeste! I’ve been eating it every second day. I’m now trying the roasted cauliflower with your other dressing and vinaigrette formulae. :D

    • Thanks, I’m glad you share my enthusiasm for it! I could easily eat it every day, too. :)

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