Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets...

Raclette has been a wintertime staple in Switzerland since as far back as the year 1291, and is any cheese lovers’ favorite dinner. The word Raclette is derived from the French word “racler”, meaning “to scrape”, as the cheese was traditionally scraped from the heated half-wheel onto a plate. Farmers and herdsmen used to make a meal, by campfire, of melted cheese, potatoes and pickles. Some historians believe that the cheese got too close to the fire and melted, giving birth to the dish. Today, however, Raclette cheese is most commonly melted on a special grill, also called a Raclette, and is served with potatoes, gherkins (small dill pickles), BĂĽndnerfleisch (air dried beef, a specialty from the Swiss Alps), and pickled vegetables. Portions of Raclette cheese are heated on a tabletop Raclette oven in individual trays and, when hot and bubbly, are scraped onto each plate over the accompaniments. In old-fashioned style, some people still melt the cheese over an open fire, and scrape it up as it melts. Don’t confuse Raclette with fondue though, because it is quite different, and most Swiss will tell you that they prefer Raclette. If cheesy dinner sounds like something that might clog up your tummy, then drink some white wine with your meal, or wash it down with some pear liquor to aid with digestion, and you should be okay. Whether or not you have the proper equipment, if you feel like experimenting invite some friends over and follow the below recipe. Raclette cheese can usually be found in any cheese shop, but you can substitute with Gruyere, Fontina, or most other semi-firm cheeses. Have fun!

Makes: about 6 servings

1 large wedge Raclette preferably Gomser, Conches or Bagnes if you can find it. (About 1 pound)

1 dozen cooked small new potatoes, unpeeled

Assorted pickled garnishes: cornishons, pickled onions, caper berries

1/2 pound sliced Bundnerfleisch (air dried beef)

Traditional Raclette Machine

If you have a traditional Raclette machine (with heat coils) prepare as directed by the manufacture. Heat the cheese and scrape onto warmed plates. Serve with accompaniments.

Raclette Grill

If you have Raclette grill slice the cheese and place on the warmer trays. Heat according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve with accompaniments.

No Special Equipment?

Not a problem. Slice a 4oz portion of cheese for each serving. Remove the rind from the cheese and place on an ovenproof plate. Place plates in a preheated 450°F oven until melted and almost liquid. Serve with accompaniments.

*Photo from

*Recipe from

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