The raclette stone by the kitchen fire
The raclette stone by the kitchen fire


The tradition of Boxing Day, traditionally celebrated on December 26, began in England during the Middle Ages. Some historians say that the holiday developed because servants were required to work on Christmas Day and were given the following day off to compensate.  As servants would leave to visit their families, the lord and lady of the house would present them with gift boxes, often containing leftovers and castoffs from the prior day’s celebration.

When we first moved to Sharon Springs, we were eager to start our own traditions. We thought that a holiday party would be nice, but after consulting the local social calendar we learned that many of the prime holiday spots had already been spoken for. There are incredibly wonderful annual holiday parties in Sharon Springs scheduled from Thanksgiving straight through Christmas afternoon.

So, without much time to think, we staked our claim on Boxing Day.

Having a party the day after a major holiday presents a bit of a conundrum.  By this point people have had just about all they can take of gingerbread, egg nog, fancy Christmas sweaters, and good will toward men.

We wanted to do something more casual. A Raclette.

What’s a Raclette? Well, it’s both the name of a cheese, the method by which it’s cooked, and the term used for the entire meal that includes the cheese. Think fondue, but less liquid-y.

Years ago, Josh’s mother surprised him with a Raclette grill as a present. He’d enjoyed his first Raclette in Switzerland during the obligatory post college backpacking trip. For years we’ve hosted and attended raclette parties in New York City using the Raclette grill.

But for our Boxing Day at the Beekman Raclette Party we decided to employ an even more traditional cheese-melting method than a Raclette grill. Instead, we melt it the old fashioned way – on the hearth.

The raclette stone
The raclette stone

We chose a flat piece of blue slate stone and placed it on the kitchen hearth.

The raclette cheese melting into goodness
The raclette cheese melting into goodness

A 1/2 wheel of French Raclette cheese is then placed on the stone with the cut edge closest to the fire.

As the edge melts, the molten cheese is scraped away (we use a wide painters edging knife) and then poured over boiled potatoes and fresh baked baguettes.

Raclette accoutrements
Raclette accoutrements

The meal is accompanied by a sprinkle of paprika and pickled vegetables. The pickled carrots, green tomatoes, string beans and garlic cloves are all from this year’s garden, as were the potatoes used under the melted cheese.

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The makings of good glogg

While we serve the Raclette itself with the traditional Riesling, we chose to serve small glasses of hot Glogg to our guests as an aperitif as they arrived in from the cold. Glogg is a hot spiced Swedish drink made from red wine spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, citrus peel, cardamom, and sugar.  For an extra kick of warmth, vodka is added just before dipping in the ladle.

Glugg accoutrements
Glogg accoutrements

To serve the glogg, a few raisins and almonds to the bottom of the glass before filling.

Coconut and lemon curd cupcakes
Coconut and lemon curd cupcakes

We finished off the evening with lemon coconut cupcakes filled with lemon curd, a delicious chocolate pecan pie (sent to us as a gift all the way from Michigan), and an exceptionally moist spike cake made by Farmer John.  How lucky are we to have a farmer who also owns a Bundt pan?

If you’re throwing a New Years Party this week, be sure to check out the latest Nepenth blog entry for an entertaining and informative look at champagne. And Mary Beekman has an historic recipe for her favorite “New Years Cookey.”

by Dr. Brent

Reader Comments

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Jenny from Melbourne Australia

In Australia everyone celebrates Boxing Day, it is a public holiday, we normally go to my brothers for a late lunch of left over meat and salads. It is a lovely relaxing day after a busy time, it is usually hot so we do spend a lot of time chasing the shade, playing a game of backyard cricket, having a few drinks and some laughs

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Tamms

My hubs is English and one year we spent my school break (I’m teacher, not a student) with family across the pond. This is where I attended my first, and only, Boxing Day party. Boxing Day is a pretty big deal to my husband…..he takes a vacation day from work if it falls on a normal work day to watch sport and eat the goodies that I’ve made. You’ve inspired me to throw our own BD party next time it falls on the weekend.

Love the blog by the way.

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Beth

We started celebrating Boxing Day a few years ago. We open Xmas crackers, have a fancy (but simple) dinner in the dining room and we each get one small gift…usually a book. It is a low-key family day and helps keep the kids from being disappointed that Christmas is over.

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Michele

Delicious, everything looks so elegant, thanks for sharing your day with us love to both of you and everyone at Beekman.

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Robin A

I love raclette. My family surprised me with a dish of it when I arrived home after a long and arduous flight so it has a pleasant association for me, besides being delicious. All the accompaniments here sound wonderful.

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Annie

Boxing Day is also my birthday. I may have to add a raclette to my wish list for next year!

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Marie from PA

Great Boxing Day celebration! Love your ideas, especially the raclette! I did that a few years ago on Valentines Day and it was yummy and fun, to boot. As a student in England, I knew about Boxing Day. Since very few here celebrate it, most people have no idea what it is, so your explanation is perfect! Enjoy your feast! The photos are terrific!

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sue tolbert

Boxing Day in Michigan,for lunch, Blaak and tomatoe grilled sandwich. We’re the only servants running around this house. Enjoy tonight. sue t.

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Lisa Leavelle

Had never heard of Boxing Day till this year.. Maybe because we never had servants?. I do think my mailman would enjoy. 1/5 of scotch . But then we may never see him again after that. My grandparens are from England, wish they were still around to share their past with us.

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Roger

Hi Brent:

Thank you so much for sharing this. I have known about Boxing Day for many years and continue to see it noted on English and Canadian calendars but had no idea how to celebrate it – until now. Your party plan sounds FABulous! I want to start planning one now for the end of this year. Most of the food you served seems simple enough to prepare but I am stymied by the Coconut and Lemon Curd cupcakes. I've searched the internet for a recipe. I found a nice one for Coconut Lemon Cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting but no mention of Lemon Curd. I also found one for Lemon Meringue Cupcakes in Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book, but they don't look like the ones in your photo and do not have coconut. How did you make these? Is the lemon curd somehow inserted into the cupcakes? Or is it spread onto the top or somehow incorporated into the frosting?

P.S. You are indeed lucky to have a farmer who also owns a Bundt pan! My hat's off to Farmer John!

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