Catherine was a French/Swiss/German mom I met years ago at my kids’school. We would get together for various family outings. She was a Phd in the engineering field and worked in industrial research. One day, she called and was full of excitement: ” I just got a raclette sent to me from back home!”. I had no clue what a raclette was, but figured if she was beside herself with joy, it must be good.
Catherine insisted we needed to come to her house and eat some raclette.
So, we got together the following Saturday, and I finally saw what the raclette was. Raclette is a cheese but also the name for the actual dish. A special raclette pan is set in the middle of the table and each person picks, say, a potato or a slice of ham or chicken or fruit, places the cheese on top and heats it on that raclette dish. When the cheese melts, then it is ready and after eating that piece, on to the next one.
In the olden days, raclette was prepared inside the hearth, in a Swiss chalet in the Alps. (at least that is how I picture it).
I was dumbfounded at first. Growing up in Lebanon where each dish requires elaborate steps and usually hours in the kitchen with at least one helper, I thought “That’s it?”.
It was in reality a fantastic meal. Rustic, simple, delicious! Catherine had all the trimmings there: Mustard (only one brand she deemed worthy of being consumed “Amora”), little cornichons, tiny pickled cocktail onions. We ate and ate and ate.
Everybody was happy and satiated.
I saw some raclette today at the store and even though I don’t have a raclette pan ( I could order one online for less than $40) I figured “hey, we can still make it”. I boiled the potatoes, got some prosciutto, good mustard and pickles, and melted the cheese under the broiler. Voilà!
Any cheese can be used for a raclette (if you don’t find the actual raclette cheese) such as sharp cheddar, Brie or Camembert. Each serving of cheese is about 4 ounces.
Any meats can be used or even shellfish; the portion should be also about 4 ounces per serving.
The potatoes should be the waxy type, such as Yukon Gold or the small red potatoes.
Fruits recommended for raclette could be apples, pears, apricots or prunes.
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