Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Raclette is a nice thing to have on a cold day. We first had Raclette at our friend Judy's house in San Diego. Raclette is a cheese, a grill, and a way of cooking. The name is derived from the French racler, meaning to scrape. The idea is to heat up some cheese, and scrape it onto something.
In the classic Raclette, each person gets a plate with Raclette cheese, some sliced boiled potatoes, some gherkins, and maybe some meat such as ham.
Plate for Raclette
You put a piece of cheese in one of the little trays, and put it under the heating element of the grill, and get it nice and melty.
Melted Cheese
Then you scrape it on a slice of potato, and eat, and that's about all there is to it. The heating element is under the grill top, which can also be used for cooking things like vegetables. I often cook mushrooms on it, and then cover the grilled mushrooms with raclage.
The nice thing about Raclette is that it's interactive food, cooked around a shared device (ours, in the link above, has 8 trays, each of which comes with a little plastic scraper and a metal stand to hold the tray so that it doesn't burn the table) which a group can enjoy. We've had friends' kids over, and had to kick the kids off of the raclette in order to let the adults have a turn. The kids sort of like the raclette cheese and potato bit, but what they really like is making mini-pizzas: we get the Boboli pizza shells, some pizza sauce, some mozarella, and various other ingredients. We cut the pizza shells into raclette-sized pieces, and the kids can spend an hour just making little pizzas and cooking them.
I saw a raclette cookbook, which had lots of wacky suggestions and "recipes", but it seemed a little silly--just stick things in the tray that you want melted, and cook things on top that you want grilled, and go for it. Oh, and the gherkins are just for eating with it.