“A couple of years ago, I took my girls on a ski trip to the Swiss Alps. One afternoon, I decided to venture off on my own and I stumbled upon a tiny restaurant serving raclette. Although I was familiar with the dish, it was the first time I had ordered it for myself. It was a revelation to discover that something as simple as melted cheese, potatoes, bread and cornichons could be so delicious. I could happily devour this on my own, but it is better enjoyed as a dish to share amongst family or friends.” Jason Atherton, Author.
1 whole vacherin Mont d’Or, weighing 350–450 g
a sprig of rosemary, cut into 5 pieces
3 sprigs of thyme
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
150 ml dry white wine
For the fried new potatoes
16 similar-sized new potatoes,
800–900 g in total
1 litre chicken stock
30 g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
16 slices of baguette
1 First prepare the new potatoes. Put them (unpeeled) into a medium-sized pan and add the stock and add a generous pinch of sea salt. If the stock does not cover the potatoes, top up with a little water. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10–15 minutes or until the potatoes are just cooked through (when you pierce the thickest part of a potato with the tip of a knife, there should be little resistance). Remove from the heat and leave the potatoes to cool in the stock.
2 Once the potatoes have cooled, drain them (you can reserve the stock to cook pasta or for another use) and cut them in half lengthways. Heat the butter with 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, then add the potato halves and fry for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes to a tray lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess fat. Set aside in a warm place.
3 Return the frying pan (with the fat left in it) to the heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and fry the slices of baguette for 1–2 minutes on each side or until they are crisp and golden brown around the edges. (You may need to do this in two batches if your pan is not large enough to accommodate the slices in one layer.) Remove them to a plate and set aside.
4 Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas. Remove all the packaging from the vacherin and place it in a deep ovenproof dish. Make slits in the cheese with the tip of a small knife, then stud it with the rosemary, thyme and garlic slices. Pour over the wine. Bake for 10–12 minutes or until the cheese is meltingly soft.
5 Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, during which time you can put the potatoes into the still-hot oven to reheat. Serve the vacherin with the toasts, fried new potatoes and cornichons on the side.
Recipes & images taken from Social Sweets by Jason Atherton, published by Bloomsbury