Thursday, February 5, 2015

Raclette & Pickled Onion

The Swiss raclette hearth.
The other week we tried a gift my Swiss sister and her husband brought us for Christmas. We had tried the Swiss dish raclette, which is melted cheese served with boiled potatoes, pickled onions and cucumbers (not for me, though, who is a bit sensitive to some of the stuff they put in pickled jars), when we came to stay with them last year. It´s one of those dishes where you cook part of your own meal at the table, like fondue. We always enjoy fondue, it is a bit like gathering around the fire, feels very primeval and communal. Their raclette hearth is an electrical one that also has a hot stone on which one can fry strips of meat. What they gave us was a simpler version where the heatsource is tealights.

We were taught to pour the cheese on top of the potatoes.

Adding a slice of  smoked loin of pork worked really well.
It worked really well, I must say. Important, though, to use three candles per raclette pan, otherwise it will not get hot enough to melt the cheese. Just as tasty as the first time we had it. Lucky for us, raclette cheese is available in some stores. And now that we wet our apetites on it, I have tried pickling onions myself for the first time.

It´s not too hard, really. Blanch about 1 kilo of small onions and peel them. Then put them in salted water (1 liter water and 100 ml salt) over night, and boil them for a few minutes until soft. (I managed to over-blanch them - they are so small! so I just rinsed the salt off, I think they are quite soft enough.) Then you make a solution by boiling 300 ml sugar, 200 ml vinegar essence, 300 ml water, spiced with 1 teaspoon white peppercorns, 3 pieces of dried ginger, and 5 pieces of mace. Put the onions in a jar and pour the hot solution over it. It´s ready to eat after three weeks and lasts for a year. We haven´t tried ours yet, but it looks nice.

Peeling the onions.
Salting the onions.
Done! Made half the recipe and didn´t fill the jar - we´ll finish this in no time!


  1. I remember fondue from back in the 70s, and I loved it. I used to have Mother's set but don't any more. Now I'm thinking I'd like to try it again.I liked the meat and the cheese fondue better than the sweet, so I'm finding your raclette hearth appealing.

    1. I grew up having fondue bourgignon for Christmas Eve, which seems to be pretty standard in Switzerland as well. I´ll blog it soon, the husband will think a blog post is an excellent reason to feast. ;-)

      We have a small chocolate fondue set, which we have tried but I´m thinking of improving the chocolate mixture a bit. It also uses tealights. The raclette hearth is great - a perfect, fairly light meal for Saturday night!

    2. Our fondue set didn't get hot enough with tea lights, and it was set up to use sterno (which got harder and harder to find over tine).

    3. I´ve seen the French use something like that in the restaurants. We use a meth-burner for the bourgignon set. It gets plenty hot!