Root Vegetable Cholera

Just before our vacation to Switzerland, my wife came down with the flu. She’s one heck of a trooper though, and she still skied and hiked through it somehow. Anyway, we were both hoping that I wouldn’t catch it since I’m not nearly as tough as she is, and it would have really hampered our trip if I came down with it too. Then, one morning in Zermatt on our way to the Sunnegga cog rail to bring us to our skiing area, we stopped at Bäckerei Fuchs, and she gave me Cholera! You’re probably thinking, “How is cholera somehow better than the flu?”

The answer is simple. Cholera is delightful (there’s a phrase I never thought I’d type)! Luckily, the word in Switzerland is very different from the English word…in Switzerland, it is the name of an incredible savory pie made of potatoes, onions, cheese, and any other additions you like (apples, leeks, bacon). Everything is then topped off with a layer of pastry before being baked to a golden brown perfection. Depending on what you put in it, this can be an entree or a side dish.

We “healthified” ours by replacing most of the potato with turnips and parsnips, and then we served ours as a side with Geschnetzeltes and Butter Cabbage for a dinner party.

My mom used to have a favourite shirt with a phrase that comes to mind for this dish: “The last time I cooked, hardly anybody got sick.” We highly encourage you to have fun with the name of this one when serving to guests.

Time: 80 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • Two Pie Crusts (one for top and one for bottom. We used frozen due to time)
  • Turnip (we used 2 medium sized ones)
  • Parsnip (we used 3 medium sized ones)
  • Potato (we used 1 medium sized one)
  • Onion
  • Cheese of your choice (We recommend a good melting cheese like Raclette or Gruyere)
  • An Egg
  • Any additional seasonings you like (Paprika, Salt, and Pepper would all go well in this dish, but we opted to skip seasonings and let all of the ingredients stand for themselves)

Method:

  • Place your pie crusts on the counter to defrost.
  • Peel your parsnips, and wash your other vegetables. Then, using the slicing plate of your food processor (easiest way and how we do it), a mandolin, or by hand, cut your vegetables into thin uniform slices. Keep the potatoes separate from the parsnips and turnip…but the parsnip and turnip slices can mingle all they want.
  • Put your potato slices in one pot and your turnip and parsnip slices in another. Add water to each pot until it covers your root vegetable slices, and bring to a boil.
    • When your turnip and parsnips have softened a bit (3-4 minutes depending on thickness), drain the water, and put them into a bowl.
    • When your potatoes have softened (4-5 minutes), drain their water, and place them into a separate bowl.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C)
  • As your sliced vegetables cool, cut an onion in half, and then cut that into very thin slices. Also, grate or thinly slice your cheese.
  • Now onto the assembly:
    • Rub your pie plate with a little butter to coat and prevent sticking in the future.
    • Unroll one of your pie crusts, and fit it inside your pie plate.
    • Place a layer of turnip and parsnip slices on the bottom, and then follow that up with some potatoes, some onions, and some cheese.
    • Add another layer in the same manner as above, and repeat until you run out of ingredients or space in your pie pan.
    • Unroll your other pie crust, and lay it atop everything. Then, working carefully with a sharp knife, cut around the top crust so that it fits nicely over the pie without hanging over. Keep that extra dough that you cut off!
    • Fold the excess dough from the bottom crust over the top crust, and gently crimp down.
    • With a rolling pin, flatten your leftover dough, and cut out any shape you like to add as a decoration to the top of your Cholera, and then place it atop your pie. We went with a Swiss Cross because that seemed like the right thing to do…but have fun with cookie cutters for this!
    • Cut a couple of small slits in the top dough for steam to escape during cooking.
    • Beat an egg, and brush it atop your Cholera
    • Place in the oven for about 40 minutes.
  • When your Cholera is golden brown, remove from the oven, and let sit for 4-5 minutes before cutting in.
  • Plate, devour, and enjoy!

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