Switzerland’s Hot and Cheesy Casserole Named After A Disease

Goms is a valley in the rugged mountainous canton of Valais in Switzerland, where this pie originated. The unusual name of this pie, Gomser Cholera, derives from the cholera epidemic that hit Switzerland hard in 1836. Rather than leave the house and risk infection, people tended to prepare meals with the food they had on hand. In nineteenth-century Switzerland, this was typically, apples, pears, potatoes, onions, leeks, raclette cheese, local bacon, and the pastry ingredients. The cheese called for is one particular kind of raclette cheese known as Gomser; other raclette cheeses are Belalp, Valais Raclette, and Bagnes. They are sold under the generic name raclette cheese. As befits a home-prepared dish of many families, there are many recipes. This recipe is adapted from the one posted on the Goms tourist bureau Web site. However, the pie is hardly known in Switzerland today; in fact, most Swiss will look at you confusedly if you were to mention it.

Gomser Cholera
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Savory Pie
Cuisine: Swiss
Serves: 8 to 10 servings
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes (about 1¾ pounds)
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3½ ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces onions, finely chopped
  • 1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, split lengthwise, washed well, and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound tart apples, peeled, quartered, and sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 pound puff pastry, defrosted according to package instructions
  • 10 ounces Gomser cheese (raclette cheese)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  1. Place the potatoes in a pot full of water, bring to a boil over medium heat, then cook until a skewer glides easily into the center, about 40 minutes in all. Remove the potatoes, peel, cut into quarters, slice, and set aside.
  2. In a large flameproof casserole, melt the butter with the bacon over low heat and cook until the bacon is slightly crispy, about 10 minutes. Add the onions and leeks and cook, stirring, until softened and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add the apples and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Roll out two-thirds of the puff pastry dough to fit into a 9-inch diameter deep-dish pie pan. Spread half the onion mixture over the dough and top with half of the potatoes and then half the cheese. Cover the cheese with the remaining filling in the same order. Roll out the remaining puff pastry and cover the filling with it. Score in several places and brush with the beaten egg. Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Serve hot.


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