Raclette, a dish served during the chilly Alpine winters of Switzerland, Austria, Germany and France, is cheese heated until it begins to melt and bubble. There is a special grill for the dish; sausages and potatoes are placed on top to sear while paddles filled with cheese are placed underneath the heat source. Required in my house are the traditional accompaniments of pickled onions, cornichons, endive salad and a lively, minerally white wine.
What is also traditional is a sprinkle of spices onto the cheese to enliven the rich cheese’s flavor on the palate. Raised near Zurich, my husband, Stefan, has a small bottle of Zurich-based Butty Fondue-Raclette spice that we haul out of the darkest reaches of the spice cabinet every autumn for raclette. On a recent expedition to the cabinet, I discovered that our little bottle was just about empty and Swiss friends were joining us for a birthday raclette feast. More raclette seasoning was needed, tout suite!
The internet, that handy resource of all things arcane, proved useless in this quest.
Butty is not sold Stateside.
One blogger posted a recipe that included thyme.
One US brand made raclette seasoning with caraway seeds (it is no longer produced but you can get it here).
Thyme and caraway seeds are NOT used to season raclette in the Canton of Zurich. (Well, at least in one house in the Canton of Zurich.) Unwilling to “make do,” I decided to attempt to replicate the raclette seasoning to match the taste of the Butty Fondue-Raclette seasoning.
Here are the results.
Beau Monde seasoning, around since the days of Ernest Hemingway (he liked it in his hamburger), is a mix of salt, onion and celery seed. It is available at Safeway and other stores. If you cannot find it, substitute ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon finely ground celery seed, and ½ teaspoon onion powder.
3 teaspoons (8 grams, .3 oz.) cumin
2 teaspoons (6 grams, .2 oz.) finely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons (6 grams, .2 oz.) ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons (4 grams, .15 oz.) ground mustard
1 ½ teaspoons (4 grams, .15 oz.) California paprika (sweet)
1 ½ teaspoons (4 grams, .15 oz.) Beau Monde seasoning
1 ½ teaspoons (4 grams, .15 oz.) ground fenugreek
1 ½ teaspoons (4 grams, .15 oz.) finely ground garlic powder (not salt)
Thoroughly mix spices together and place in a spice jar. Seal tightly until needed. Before use, have the Swiss in the house taste the mix. Additional nutmeg and cumin are invariably requested.
As for the Butty, we will pick some up the next time we are in CH.