I bet you have never heard of this one. If you have then kudos to you but have you shared this wonderful little item with your friends? Raclette is the name of a cheese but it is also the common name of a Swiss dish. For some reason those Swiss have a fascination with melting cheese (fondue anyone?). Traditionally the dish or meal “Raclette” involved a large round of cheese that would be slowly melted by placing its open side towards a fire. As the cheese melts it would be scraped onto the plates of those present. This melted cheese is then mixed with potatoes, gherkins, (small pickled cucumbers) dried meats, and anything else you wish for.
The modern version of Raclette which has been adopted in Germany and is a popular New Years Eve meal includes a small table top grill. This grill consists of many little personal pans for each diner and a main grilling surface on top. All of the fixings are provided in small dishes around the table and the Raclette cheese is sliced into small pieces. Each diner then has the freedom to choose how they want to make their dish. I typically use potatoes with small spicy sausages and a little corn topped by a slice of cheese. You make your personal dish and then insert it into the grill and wait for the cheese to melt. We often grill small pieces of chicken or eggs on top for more dish ingredients.
The Raclette meal is thought of as a gathering type meal and is normally used on special occasions. While one waits for his or her pan to cook they can drink or partake from the many side dishes available. We often include bread, dips, cakes, and my wife makes some wonderful stuffed mushrooms. (She will be doing an article on these shortly) The meal normally goes on for several hours with people eating when and if they wish. It is normal for the Raclette grill to be turned on and off multiple times throughout the meal.
You can find Raclette grills in almost any electric store with the rest of the appliances. You can also find them in your friendly German neighbors house! Raclette cheese can be found in any grocery store with the rest of the cheese. It normally lies somewhere with the parmesans. If you have trouble just say Raclette (Rah-klett) to the nearest worker and you will be set. As for fixings? Well, that is completely up to you! If you want some ideas check out the book below for some great Raclette recipes. Happy eating!