Raclette – The new fondue!
What is that melted cheese wheel?
That melted delight you’re salivating over is raclette cheese. Well known in its Swiss homeland, and popular in France and Germany, more recently these bubbling melted cheese wheels began popping up in the hands of New York City food-cart vendors. Raclette is now gaining popularity in Australian restaurants and dinner parties.
What is raclette?
Raclette refers to a particular kind of Swiss cheese, and the dish in which it plays the main ingredient. The cheese itself is firm with a fairly unremarkable flavour when cool, but the magic happens when grilled under direct heat: raclette develops a nutty, full sweet flavour with a crisp, delightfully chewy crust.
There are a few areas which produce cheese classified as raclette; it’s common to the Savoie region in France, and Canton of Valais in Switzerland. Blue Cow carefully selected the finest Raclette Col Fourche, a cow’s milk cheese, from France to make available by the 6.5 kilo quarter in Australia.
Cheese Fact. The word raclette is derived from the French racler meaning “to scrape.”
How to raclette like the Swiss
If you have raclette and friends, you have a party. The cousin of fondue, raclette presents a cook-it-yourself, communal dining experience. It’s an indulgent and fun novelty to add to your dinner party repertoire.
The method of delivery depends on your preference, but there are two common methods of preparation.
Raclette off the wheel.
This one is for the cheese traditionalists. In this case, a half or quarter wheel of raclette is placed under a red-hot grill (traditionally, a roaring fire in an Alpine chalet). Once a golden crust has been formed, it’s scraped onto your chosen ingredients: often boiled potatoes, bread, cornichons and pickled vegetables.
Raclette grill with pans
This is a more modern Swiss take on the cook-at-the-table experience, akin to Korean barbecue or steamboat. A specialised raclette grill is placed centrally on the table. When the underside gets glowing hot, guests place a slice of raclette on small pans, known as coupelles, to grill them to perfection.
A modern Swiss raclette grill will usually include a grill or warmer on the top level to prepare the accompanying items, from the traditional potatoes, to steak and vegetables.
Raclette dinner party recipes
We won’t judge you for serving raclette with just about anything. Honestly, it will be amazing grilled on toast with nothing else. But below are a few options for your spread at your raclette dinner party. The idea here is to go slow and graze, it’s not a race. You’ll want around 200g of raclette per person.
- Boiled potatoes (skin on for maximum flavour)
- Cornichons (small pickles)
- Crusty French bread
- Grilled eggplant
- Fresh onions, capsicum, mushrooms, pre-cut
- Dried/cured meats
- Pre-cooked sausages or prawns
- Granny Smith apples
- Garlic – definitely optional, but some people love it!
Drink pairing for raclette
Lastly, the Swiss will tell you that, much like a fondue, raclette is best paired with a (preferably dry, unoaked) white wine. For the French Raclette Col Fourche, try to track down a Chasselas, or failing that, we’d recommend a Chenin blanc or sauvignon blanc.