The name raclette refers to a meal and to a type of cheese with the same name. The traditional dish can be described as melted cheese eaten with boiled (or roasted) potatoes with small gherkins and pickled onions.
Raclette originates from Switzerland and just like the well known classic cheese fondue; raclette is another way of enjoying simple and delicious cooking incorporating interactivity and of course lots of cheese.
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Host a Raclette Party
When you're looking for a dinner party idea that is as easy as fondue, but slightly different, try hosting a raclette party. Raclette is a type of cheese from Switzerland that is traditionally prepared with potatoes on a special raclette grill. The grill heats numerous small pans in which each guest melts the raclette with his or her choice of selected toppings.
Raclette is a traditional Swiss wintertime meal. The name comes from the French verb “racler”, which means to scrape. Raclette is cheese melted on a heated block or paddle, scraped off, served over small boiled new potatoes and accompanied by pickled onions, gherkins, and other condiments of your choice. The best choice for cheese is a Swiss raclette cheese, cut into slices. Other cheeses that also work well for this dish are French raclette, tilsit, grey alp cheese, appenzeller and emmental.
Starting with approximately 3-5 small potatoes per person, you can add a selection of meats, poultry, fish, seafood and vegetables. For meat and poultry, cut into 2-inch long thin strips (bite-size). Grill for 2-4 minutes until cooked to taste. (If using marinades be sure to clean up all excess liquid before grilling, as this will prevent burning).
Seafood and fish also work wonderfully with raclette, but just keep in mind that their protein is more sensitive to heat and requires a lower cooking temperature (and be sure none of your guests have fish or seafood allergies). You can also include a selection of vegetables; use raw thin slices of zucchini, peppers, mushrooms or red onions, and if using firmer vegetables, you should blanche them to al dente, and rinse under cold water, before cutting up and serving.
Add a selection of your favourite dips and sauces, and a fresh baguette. Have freshly ground pepper, paprika, and sea salt available for individual seasoning (grilled foods should only be seasoned after cooking).
In Switzerland, a raclette is usually accompanied by a Fendant (a white wine from the Valais region). You can use a light bodied dry white wine, served at a temperature of 50-55F (consider a Swiss Neufchatel Blanc or California Fume Blanc). If you wish to serve red wine, a chilled Pinot Noir adds a fruity taste. Wine spritzers, beer and mocktails also work well.