Photo by Judith Hausman
Raclette is a Swiss dish, based on heating cheese and scraping off the melted portion.
As with fondue, purists adhere to tradition with raclette. Boiled potatoes and tiny pickles (cornichons) are the sole accompaniments, and eaters are warned not to fill up on those. It’s all about the cheese; guests like to boast of how many servings they’ve managed to eat. Tepid white wine or hot tea are the only beverages permitted because, according to folklore, others would result in a gut stuffed with a giant cheese ball. It’s a lot of fun.
To be more practical, you can use various tableside contraptions that either heat slices of cheese from underneath or hold a large piece of cheese near a heating element. It keeps me at the stove, but I use a small no-stick pan and watch the slices very carefully, sliding them onto warmed plates to serve. I also cheated this year by serving lightly sautéed red cabbage, onions and apples alongside the raclette. The combination made a perfect Germanic accompaniment for this simple, homey dish.
This winter I found a local (well, regional), artisanal raclette cheese made in Vermont by Southwind Farm. Fresh and authentic, the tangy, well-flavored cheese melted just as it should over the Yukon gold potatoes and homemade pickles I provided. I won’t give you an actual recipe here for the cheese since this is a dish one should just assemble for guests — the more, the merrier. Enjoy a last winter meal with friends before you welcome the asparagus back!
- 1/4 pound, at least, of raclette cheese, per person
- 1 large potato, per person; unpeeled, sliced, boiled and kept warm
- your favorite pickles, but not sweet ones
- a fresh baguette or dark bread
- white wine, such as Chardonnay, or hot tea
RED CABBAGE ON THE SIDE
- red cabbage
- small onion
- large, tart apple
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds and/or dill, optional