One of my favorite meals during the winter time is Raclette, which of course was one of the meals we enjoyed during our NYE trip to the French Alps. And when you are in a cozy chalet in the mountains or anywhere else that is cold, this dish is an absolute must and it’s a fantastic meal to share with a large group. And for me personally, I prefer Raclette a hundred times over fondue, but that’s just me.
So what is Raclette? Raclette is a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese that is typically served melted over boiled potatoes and is traditionally found in the Swiss and French Alps during the cold months. The name is derived from the French word racler, which means “to scrape”. Raclette cheese is either melted over an open fire, or with a special grill that melts the cheese directly from the wheel, or most commonly on a special Raclette table top grill. Now the key to a good Raclette is of course the cheese and secondary are the side condiments.
My husband and I prefer a non-pasteurized Raclette because it tends to melt more smoothly. We also ALWAYS buy our cheese from a local cheesemaker, Dorfkäserei Küssnacht, in the town of Küssnacht am Rigi. Their Raclette is just the best and surprisingly cheaper than the average Raclette you find in the normal Swiss grocery stores.
Now let’s talk about the sides and condiments for Raclette. As mentioned before, Raclette is typically melted over boiled potatoes. The Swiss typically use Amandine or Charlotte potatoes, which are smaller in size and still stay relatively firm when fully cooked (you don’t want mushy potatoes). Raclette is also traditionally served with anything pickled on the side, such as cornichons, pearl onions and baby corn. For our Raclette dinner, we were fortunate enough to include homemade curried pickled squash made by my brother-in-law and pickled tomatoes made by the uncle of my Polish colleague into the mix of our pickled sides. And for seasonings, try freshly ground nutmeg, freshly cracked black pepper, curry spice mix, piri piri or your favorite smoked chili.
I hope these pictures inspire some of you to enjoy a Raclette dinner in your homes during these cold months. And please know that everyone has different preferred sides and condiments and you can try whatever you think tastes good with melted cheese, even curry ketchup. And try pairing your Raclette with a nice crisp white wine like a Fendant. For those in the Luzern area, try the Solaris white wine from the organic winery Sitenrain in Meggen. It is absolutely delicious!
INGREDIENTS (4-6 servings)
Raclette cheese: 7-14 ounces per person / 200-400 grams per person
Boiled Raclette potatoes (Charlotte or New Potatoes work great): 1/2 pound per person / 250 grams per person on average
1 jar of cornichons or your favorite pickles
Other pickled sides such as pickled pearl onions, pickled hot peppers, etc.
2 large onions thinly sliced to melt with your cheese
1/4 pounds or 125 grams of thinly sliced smoked bacon to melt with your cheese
Freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly cracked black pepper
Hot pepper flakes or piri piri
INSTRUCTIONS (for a table top Raclette grill)
- Boil your potatoes in salted water until well cooked.
- Slice your Raclette into approx. 0.4 inches / 1 cm slices or a size appropriate for your Raclette pans and place them on large platter.
- Thinly slice 2 large onions and place into a small bowl or two for the table.
- Thinly slice the smoked bacon and place into a small bowl or two for the table.
- Place all of your preferred pickled sides and spices onto the table around the Raclette table top grill.
- Once your potatoes are fully cooked, drain the water and place them into a bowl covered by a kitchen towel to stay warm.
- Turn on your Raclette grill and start melting some cheese!