From Laetitia Brock. Email her at laetitia[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow her at @FrenchTwistDC and on her own blog, French twist DC.
Odds are you probably haven’t had Raclette, though hopefully you’ll want to after reading this post. Raclette is a great winter weather dish but is less popular in the United States than its melted cheese cousin, fondue.
In Switzerland, where it is from, and in France, where I am from, it’s very popular though. So popular that you can actually find it at McDonalds (oui, we have a McRaclette!)
Simple to Make
So what is this Raclette? It’s four things really:
- A pungent washed rind cows milk cheese.
- The dish you make with that cheese.
- The grill you use to melt the raclette (cheese) you need to make the raclette (dish).
- The dinner party where people get together to eat the raclette (dish) made by melted raclette (cheese) on the raclette (grill).
Are you still following me?
It’s actually a lot simpler than I make it out to be. Raclette is a simple dish with humble origins. Like fondue, it was a way to finish dried old cheese and already opened wine. In fondue, the cheese is melted in a pot (fondue comes from the French word fondre which means to melt) and eaten with bread.
In Raclette, slices of cheese are melted in a little pan under a table side grill then scraped (raclette gets its name from the French word for scrape: racler) over warm potatoes and charcuterie. Raclette is less popular here because the grill and the cheese are harder to find. Harder, yes, but not impossible!
Raclette is the perfect dish for cold winter days and if you feel like throwing a raclette dinner party, you can easily order a grill from Williams-Sonoma or Amazon.com. Raclette grills usually come with eight to 10 little pans, but I’ve seen two-pans (for an intimate raclette date) and four-pans (for the studio friendly raclette party) pop up here and there.
The cheese can be bought at Whole Foods, Cowgirl Creamery and Righteous Cheese. Beyond the grill and the cheese, all you need is small boiled potatoes, charcuterie (I personally love prosciutto with raclette but turkey and ham are fine too), cornichons and a simple tossed salad for a side dish. Raclette is pretty heavy, so you can skip the appetizers.
As far as pairings are concerned, white wine is typically what you would serve with Raclette, like an Alsatian pinot gris or a Sauvignon Blanc. But you can go beyond whites of course. Carolyn of Righteous Cheese currently offers French Raclette in one of her flights and pairs with a Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza beer. At the recommendation of the folks at Modern Liquor, I recently tried a light Austrian red with my Raclette and it worked out really well. So give Raclette a try while it’s still cold out out… it’ll help you melt the winter blues away!
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