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Raclette

Many years ago we discovered raclette with friends in Pontresina, Switzerland. I remember having this huge 2-foot wheel of cheese cut in half with a heating element melting it on plates filled with potatoes, meats and other vegetables. It was a fascinating dining experience that is simple and impressive. Locally, we love the raclette appetizer at Adolph’s here in Park City. But we also like to make raclette at home on special occasions.

Raclette is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese now produced in many regions of the world. The most noteable is produced in the Valais region of Switzerland, in the west-central Alps. If you’re shopping for raclette cheese, you’ll also find a lot of French raclette. I prefer the Swiss, which is reasonably readily available at cheese and specialty stores (Smith’s used to carry French raclette it in Park City, but no more). I’ve found that a quarter to half pound per person is sufficient.

You’ll also need a raclette grill. We have a really nice Swissmar grill (50th birthday present from Carole in 2002) that can easily handle a raclette dinner for six. It’s simple to use. You put small slices (1/4-inch thick) of raclette cheese into a triangular cooking tray and slip it under the broiler. Our Swissmar also doubles as a grill to allow you to cook sausages or meats on the top. We love to do small slices of prime rib. You can get a top-end Swissmar grill at Amazon for less than $100.

Raclette Dinner for Four

  • 1 lb. Swiss raclette cheese (this is a reasonable serving if dinner is accompanied by soup, salad, etc.)
  • 1/2 lb. beef rib sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices about an inch long
  • 2-3 white potatoes cut into 1/2-inch pieces and boiled lightly
  • 10-12 small cocktail onions
  • 10-12 small Gherkin miniature pickles
  • 10-12 small vegetables including sliced peppers, brocolli, etc.
  • Other meats or vegetables of your choice

Preparation
Cut and prepare cheese, meats and vegetables in advance of guests’ arrival. Everything here can be prepped in advance, saving the host prep time during the evening. Arrange the ingredients on a communal serving plate and provide each guest with a small dinner plate, a raclette tray and a scraper. Guests simply choose their meats and vegetables, then place some cheese in the tray and melt it. Meats can be grilled on top. Then simply pour or scrape the cheese onto the meats and vegetables and enjoy!

Wine
This is where I really wish you could get Swiss wines more readily in the USA. Raclette is perfect with a Dole du Valais or Dole du Mont from the Valais region. These are light, entertaining reds that are a perfect complement with the range of meats and vegetables. But a nice California or Oregon pinot noir would be a great pairing. I’m partial to pinots from the Carneros region in the lowlands on the south end of Napa and Sonoma.

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