Gone are the days of our giant raclette parties in New York City (for now), so instead we’ll be continuing our tradition chez nous (and we advise you to do it as well). We’ve compiled an easy how-to for a raclette party-of-one (or two if you’d like to double the ingredients). Making raclette at home is as easy as (cheese) cake, and a cozy antidote to the winter blues, if you know what to buy.
What is Raclette?
Raclette is a heavy Alpine dish that skiers and families from the region indulge in as a remedy to a cold day. The success of the dish mostly relies on the quality of the cheese (which is excellent in the Alps), known as raclette. It is a firm cheese made from cow’s milk, which ranges from ivory to gold in color, with a soft and creamy consistency and few holes. Flavor can range from mildly fruity to aromatic depending on the degree of ripeness.
The Raclette grill
Raclette is typically served on a special kind of grill specifically designed for this purpose. The cheese is heated until bubbling, and then scraped onto potatoes and charcuterie. In fact, the word “raclette” means “to scrape” in French, and the cheese is named after this style of serving. Full size commercial raclette grills heat the wheel of cheese from above, and the top layer of cheese is periodically scraped off. But smaller, individual-sized raclette grills are designed to heat individual slices of raclette directly on the surface of the grill.
Individual Raclette Grills
There are plenty of pricey raclette makers, and entire sets filled with everything down to the cheese slices and vegetables, but this adorable mini raclette grill works with simple candle light, illuminating little cow cutouts as it heats the pan. It is easily transportable for a picnic or ski chalet getaway. You can also use the tray to melt cheese over a fire or a grill. Try it once and you’ll be ordering another one immediately after for all your friends and family.
If you really want to invest in an at-home raclette setup, this raclette grill serves 8, and costs just under $100.
Where to Buy Raclette Cheese
Mifroma offers raclette cheese slices neatly packaged in a plastic container, which can be found through the online marketplace Mercato, or on Instacart. The site igourmet also has a variety of raclette cheeses available for delivery. If you’re shopping in person, both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell sliced raclette, as does the NYC cheesemonger Murray’s Cheese. If you can’t find raclette, melty Alpine cheeses like gruyère and Swiss cheese can achieve a similar effect.
What to Serve with Raclette
There are a few essential ingredients you’ll need to make a proper raclette spread. There’s the cheese, obviously. Then you should make sure to get your charcuterie, such as lardons, speck, salami, sopressata, or whatever you prefer. You could even grill a steak or roll some asparagus in pieces of speck or prosciutto. Veggies like boiled potatoes, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and asparagus are also welcome. Keep in mind that this is quite a carb-heavy dish, so the more greens, the better. And to cut through all those carbs and fat, you’ll want crunchy, tangy French cornichons. Maille is the usual go-to brand, also available Stateside, but the cornichons sold at Trader Joe’s are a great budget dupe.
Can You Eat the Rind of Raclette Cheese?
The rind of raclette cheese is actually considered to be something of a delicacy. Heat it along with the rest of your cheese, and it will become crispy and delicious.
What’s the difference between Raclette vs. Fondue?
Raclette and fondue, though both cheese-based Swiss/Alpine dishes, are quite different. Raclette is made exclusively from raclette cheese, while fondue can contain a variety of cheeses. Fondue also contains other ingredients, like white wine and kirsch. While both raclette and fondue are served with other ingredients like potatoes, vegetables, bread, and charcuterie, raclette is scraped over the accompaniments, while the bread and veggies used for fondue are dipped into the fondue.