When guests arrive at our house for the first time, we always throw a raclette party to give them an authentic taste of Switzerland. Raclette is not only a food; it is an event.
This popular mountain dish, made from the alpine raclette cheese, has been around for centuries. Raclette, recorded in texts from German Swiss convents in 1291, dates back to medieval times. Cow herders used to melt this cheese over campfires when moving cows to and from pastures in the mountains.
Originally for this hearty, peasant meal a large raclette cheese round was heated over the fireplace then poured over potatoes. Hotels and restaurants in the mountains still use this method. Most people living in our area own an electric, tabletop raclette grills, which makes preparing the meal easier.
I love raclette because guests cook their own meal by heating sliced cheese in individual metal trays. The cheese is scraped onto small potatoes. Or it may also be served on bread like we do. Dried meats cured in the mountainous regions, such as beef, Parma hams, and viande des Grisons, can be heated on the grill top and served also. Tiny vinegary pickles and onions always accompany the dish.
The French serve raclette with a Savoy white wine, a Riesling or a pinot gris. According to the locals, one should drink only wine with raclette because water will harden the cheese in the belly creating indigestion. However, I have yet to see someone get sick even from imbibing, bubbly Coca Cola with the raclette meal.
At our house, we never had a guest who disliked raclette; in fact most people love it.
“Oh raclette, love it! Best meal of my life!” said Charlotte, Larissa’s sister who clapped her hands in delight and marveled. “Takes potato skins to a whole new level.”
My family enjoyed this so much on visits to Switzerland that I once hauled a bulky raclette machine across the Atlantic, so they could savor the meal stateside. Fortunately this is no longer necessary. You can order the raclette cheese and the grill from where else but a shop in New Glarus, the mini Switzerland of Wisconsin..
Order from New Glarus.
Imported raclette cheese is expensive. So at our cabin in Wisconsin, we use the excellent local products, the Colby, cheddar, or Swiss from Mueller’s Cheese Factory outlet. Although my French husband would disagree, I find the American cheese also suitable for this dish.
Raclette makes the perfect convivial meal to share on a cold winter night. The piping hot potatoes, heat from the grill and wine will toast your toes and warm your hearts.
I’ve never heard of this, Pat, but it does sound tasty … especially on a cold, winter’s day! And you know, I’d never heard about water on top of cheese giving you indigestion either. No wonder wine is so popular with cheese!!
It is truly amazing the beliefs and customs of different cultures. Makes life always interesting and tasty.
Raclette meals in the wintertime are sure to bring smiles to everyone’s face and warmth to their souls. Some of our favorite family memories are from raclette evenings. Although we have never mastered not setting off the fire alarms in our house once those meats got to cooking away on the grill top! We have met other folks who also enjoy this hearty meal and add their own variations such as preparing cubed steak to grill or sauteed onions, and sundried tomatoes. Yummm! I’m making myself hungry. Time to order some cheese! Thanks for the memories.
I can remember a raclette or two that we shared with you and your family back when you lived just across the border. The Swiss do it up right when it comes to cheese and chocolate.
So .. what time are we eating? I’m booking my plane ticket now!
Let me know if you are ever on my side of the Big Pond. We would love to throw you a raclette party. Is your son still living in England?
Sounds delicious! Heading north now! ????
Not sure you would want to give up the sun and warmth of the south, but if you gotta suffer with the cold up north, raclette is the way to go.