Epic Farçon

A renowned culinary tradition in the Savoie region, the farçon is interpreted in many delicious ways.

Pierre Hussenot/Agence Top

Farçon is one of those French gastronomic terms that means different things in different places. In the Auvergne region in central France, a farçon is a layered dish of sausages and assorted vegetables. In the Dauphine, the region next door to the Savoie, the name is given to a large sausage by itself. And in the Savoie … Well, it is a grand tradition. In its hearty simplicity and imaginative combination of raw materials, it just might be the quintessential Savoyard dish.

A basic definition is this: A farçon is made of potatoes (above all), pureed or grated and combined with eggs, milk, and, sometimes, bacon. Fresh or dried fruit, cabbage, and assorted herbs are often added. The ingredients may be cooked in a bain-marie or baked in the oven. It may be packed into a terrine or casserole dish, or cooked in a besace—a cloth sack soaked in bouillon.

But there isn't one recipe: There are literally dozens. Every village—every family, it sometimes seems—has its own method for preparing it. Some versions even omit the potatoes, like the farçon with a base of milk-soaked bread eaten in Sainte-Foy-en-Tarentaise, a village between Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Val d'Isere. The one thing everyone seems to agree on, though, is that farçon should be cooked long and slow. It is a Sunday dish, one that can be put in the oven before leaving for Mass. The longer the cooking, the better the farçon.