Raclette - Tips, Recipes, ServingPronounced [rah-KLEHT] - The tern raclette refers both to the famous cheese from Switzerland as well as the dish. The word raclette is derived from the French word racler which means to scrape.
Article by: Barbara Bowman
This warm cheese dish originated in the Valais canton of Switzerland where farmers and herdsman would make a meal of cheese melted by campfire or hearth, potatoes and pickles. Historians conjecture that at some point the cheese got too close to the fire and the melted cheese dish was born. The cheese and the dish have been documented back as far as the year 1291 and at that time was called Bratchäs.
There has been much evolution of the dish since those early days. Today besides the requisite potatoes and pickles any number of foods are eaten with the cheese including fish, poultry, vegetables and sometimes even wild game.
Raclette cheeses are typically round weighing 13 to 17 lbs and are about 11" in diameter and 3" thick. The cheeses are all cow's milk have in common a creamy consistency which easily melts but does not get too runny. The semi-firm cheese is normally aged about 3 or 4 months.
The different cheeses are named after the villages from which they are produced. The three premier villages are Gomser, Conches, Bagnes, and Orsieres on Raclette. Look for these names for the best cheeses.
Selecting Cheese - the cheese should have a dark beige rind with no cracks or reddening. The texture should be creamy and dry or granular.
In the Swiss tradition raclette cheese is melted over an open fire and melted slowly. As the cheese melts it is scraped off the wheel and served with boiled potatoes, bread, cornishons (pickles) and other pickled vegetables.
Today you can purchase raclette machines that have an arm with a heating element that points down on the cheese and melts it or raclette grills have become very popular. Each style machine is described below.
The Traditional Raclette Machine
The traditional raclette
machine (shown below) holds either a quarter or a half round of cheese. The
cheese is secured onto a small platform and an arm with a heating element is
cantilevered over the cheese. The heat softens and melts the cheese which is
scraped onto plates using a raclette knife
raclette machine, traditional style
The raclette grill has overtaken popularity of the traditional raclette equipment. The new grills are multi-tasking machines that have evolved along with the meal itself allowing you to melt cheese in individual serving trays while grilling meats, fish, poultry and vegetables on the upper grill level. Some units feature reversible grills with a smooth side with a raised grill on the reverse side. Stone grill tops may be available as well.
Adapted from recipe by Tori
Makes: about 6
1 large wedge raclette preferably Gomser, Conches or Bagnes
if you can find it. (about 1 pound)
1 dozen cooked small new potatoes,
Assorted pickled garnishes: cornishons, pickled onions, caper
1/2 pound sliced Bundnerfleisch (air dried
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.
If you have raclette grill slice the cheese and
place on the warmer trays. Heat according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve
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 450degree oven until melted and almost liquid.
Serve with accompaniments.
needed in the way of special tools for preparing and serving
- Plates made for fondue also work well with raclette.
Knife - a spatula shaped knife used for scraping the melted cheese onto