If you’re unfamiliar with Swiss cheese, you may wonder, “What is Raclette?” Here’s a brief overview of the traditional Swiss dish of melted cheese, which should be served with boiled potatoes, and (white) wine and can also be served with cured meats, pickled onions and so forth. Raclette cheese is a semi-hard cheese, and the flavours of raclette are nutty, salty, and sweet. It really is one of the best ways to enjoy melted cheese.
What is Raclette Cheese?
Raclette is a traditional cheese made from cow’s milk, but there are now varieties made from sheep as well as goat’s milk. Raclette cheese is produced as a large circular “wheel”, and if you were eating out or hosting a large party, you’d see it as a half wheel. If it is prepared for raclette at home, it is sliced very thin, about 1 cm thick, and is not meant to be eaten raw. Its characteristic pungency makes it a favourite among Swiss cheese lovers.
The history of raclette
Raclette has a long history dating back to the Middle Ages when herdsmen stopped at huts where they made cheese. The cheese-making process involved making large Alpine cheeses and smaller wheels of semi-firm, washed-rind cheese that eventually became the iconic Raclette. Raclette is typically eaten with charcuterie and boiled potatoes.
In the early days of raclette, a flat horizontally-sliced piece of cheese was placed in front of an open fire, and the melted cheese scraped onto the potatoes.
It is served with potato and optionally cured meats and pickles
You only need two ingredients for a bare minimum Raclette: melted raclette cheese and cooked potatoes. The potatoes should be boiled (which you should do before the meal), and the raclette cheese is melted in the grill and poured over the potatoes.
The addition of cured meats and pickles is a common practice amongst many raclette enthusiasts. This is because these foods’ salty and savoury flavours perfectly complement the cheese’s rich and creamy taste. Additionally, the textures of the meats and pickles add an interesting crunch to the dish that many people enjoy.
Raclette cheese is best served warm. It can also be added to grilled foods. The cheese can also be served with grilled cheese sandwiches. It is also a great addition to croque-monsieur.
It is served from a raclette grill
It has similarities to fondue, but the main difference is that it is served on a grill instead of a stovetop. The cheese is grilled and will be hot and bubble with a crispy skin if that is what you want. I suggest you let it cool down before trying to eat it!
Raclette is traditionally served from a grill: half a Raclette cheese wheel would be put under a special raclette grill, and when hot, bubbling and ready, the top layer would be scraped off onto your dish. The word “Raclette” comes from the French word “racler” which means “to scrape”.
A raclette grill is a great way to enjoy raclette at home. It comes with individual grill pans that each person can use to melt their own cheese portion. This way, everyone can customize their meal according to their taste, and you do not need to commit to consuming an entire half-wheel in one sitting.
The Raclette Grill
Raclette grilling has two types: those found in restaurants and the ones most Europeans use in their homes.
Restaurant Raclette Grill
A proper Raclette restaurant would have one or more raclette grills. These grills are made of cast iron with a half Raclette cheese wheel placed underneath it. Each raclette grill has its own heating element, so different types of cheese can be melted simultaneously.
A server with a scraper continuously serves the roasted cheese onto guests’ plates. The melty cheese bubbles as it cooks and the topmost layer is scraped off and served.
Home Raclette Grill
Most grills made for home use are smaller and designed to fit individual raclette dishes. They’re also less expensive, are easier to use and clean, and come with small pans to melt cheese, so you don’t have to buy a large cheese wheel.
Home Raclette grills are often versatile grills with flat pans at the top and raclette pans below. The raclette pans can be used to get your cheese melted, while the flat pans are great for grilling vegetables, meat or fish.
It is an incredibly versatile dish: you can eat Raclette alone or with friends. Whether you’re looking for a fun and different way to enjoy raclette cheese, trying your hand at raclette grilling, or want to add some melted cheese to a meal – raclette is an excellent food choice! Give it a try and see how delicious Raclette can be!
Check out our list of the best home Raclette Grills
The right Raclette cheese
Raclette cheese is the only cheese that should be used when making this dish. It has the perfect flavour and meltability for this dish. Other cheeses will not melt properly or will have a different flavour that will not pair as well with the other ingredients.
The rind of proper raclette cheese is edible and should not be cut off. The rind gets deliciously crispy when cooked properly and is a great addition to the overall flavour of the cheese. Do not discard the rind – enjoy it!
There are lactose-free versions of Raclette cheese available on the market, so those with lactose intolerance can enjoy raclette without any worries.
It is served with white wine
White wine is the traditional accompaniment, but you can also try red wine. White wine is a good choice because it cuts through the richness of the cheese. Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Ontario Riesling are all good options.
Swiss people prefer local wines with their cheese, which is also true with raclette. Different cantons serve different wines with raclette, but the most common pairing is a wine made from the Fendant grape, also known as Chasselas. This wine has a high acidity, which helps cut through the buttery texture of the cheese. Other good choices include Burgundian Pinot Noir and Carbonic wines.
Raclette recipes are incredibly versatile. They can be as simple or complex as you like and can feature a variety of different ingredients. The traditional raclette recipe is made with raclette cheese, potatoes and gherkins.
However, you can also add vegetables such as mushrooms, tomatoes and onions. You can also mix up the cheeses, adding raclette with other strong-flavoured melting cheese such as aged cheddar or Gruyere.
The raclette dish can also be served with pickled onions, cornichons, dried tomatoes and cured meats. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even add some seafood!
If you’re willing to diverge from the traditional way, then let your imagination go, and you could add cold cuts, crusty bread, salami, ham, other vegetables and green salad.
Eating raclette can be so much fun.
No matter which raclette recipe you choose to make, be sure to use the best raclette cheese you can find. This will ensure that your raclette is as delicious and flavourful as possible!
Raclette dinner party
Raclette is perfect for dinner parties as it’s easy to prepare and makes a great conversation starter. You can serve raclette with various side dishes, such as boiled potatoes, pickles or cornichons, and charcuterie.
You can also add raclette recipes to your party menu. Popular recipes include raclette pizza, raclette tarts and raclette potatoes.
Raclette grilling is also easy to do during a dinner party. You can set up the raclette grill in the middle of the table and let everyone cook their own food.
When hosting a raclette dinner party, make sure you have plenty of raclette cheese on hand. Raclette cheese can be expensive, so plan accordingly and buy enough raclette to go around!
So there you have it: raclette – an easy and delicious way to enjoy melted cheese. Whether you choose to make raclette at home with a raclette grill or visit a restaurant for the experience, raclette is sure to please. Bon Appetit!
Tips for hosting a raclette party
Where to buy raclette equipment and ingredients
Check out our list of the top 5 Raclette grills.
You can buy raclette cheese wheels in a good cheese shop, speciality stores or online
For other raclette ingredients, such as potatoes and charcuterie, visit your local farmers’ market for the freshest produce
Wines to pair with raclette can be found at any good wine store.
Final thoughts on raclette
Raclette is a fun and delicious way to enjoy melted cheese. With raclette, you can tailor the recipes to your liking by adding different ingredients and pairing them with the perfect white wines.
Whether you’re looking for a raclette dinner party option or want to try a raclette meal at home where sensible children can also participate in the cooking process, raclette is the perfect solution.
So do your raclette hats and get ready to savour some cheesy goodness!
Next on your reading list: The Definitive Guide: How to Successfully Freeze Raclette Cheese
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