Vacherin: melted alpage over potatoes
During winter in the Jura Mountains, when the cows come down from the Alpine Tundra
and there is not enough milk production to make Comté, pasteurised Vacherin Mont d’Or from Switzerland and unpasteurised Vacherin du Haut-Doubs from France is made. The production takes place between mid August – mid March and it is sold yearly as a seasonal cheese between September and May. Vacherin is an AOC cheese, soft, creamy and made with 45% to 50% cow milk fat -dry matter- content.
I learnt this recipe from Stephane Cusset, the owner of l’eau à l’bouche, in London. In Winter, Vacherin is often ate warm, baked in its original box, laced with shallots and topped off with a generous pour of dry white wine. Smother it over boiled potatoes, or dip them into the melted cheese. It is simple, earthy and delicious.
1 Vacherin, small for 2-4 people, large for 8-12
1 small shallot for a small Vacherin, 2-3 small shallots for a large Vacherin, cut in thin wedges
Sprigs of fresh Thyme
2-4 Tbsp dry white wine for a small cheese, and 4-6 Tbsp for a large cheese
4-6 small potatoes per person
Preheat the oven to 180° C. Boil the potatoes skin on in salt water until tender. In the meantime take the lid off the Vacherin and place it, in its original box, on a baking tray. The tray will catch any wine or cheese that might spill whilst baking. Poke holes into the cheese with a small knife. Wedge the shallots and the thyme into the holes in the cheese and pour the wine on top. Pop it in the oven and bake until the top of the cheese is lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Eat right away with potatoes. Either dip them in or pour the melted cheese over.