Raclette. The word drips off the palate as beautifully as the cheese melts.
I don’t need to convince anyone about the merits of melted cheese. But once you’ve discovered raclette you´ll never look at melted cheese in the same way again.
Raclette is an aromatic, semi-firm cow´s milk cheese from Switzerland, usually fashioned into 6kg wheels.
Legend has it that Swiss farmers from the Valais canton set up camp one night and some bits of cheese they’d left on rocks near the fire melted. They scraped the cheese off and discovered it was delicious. Raclette (from the French racler meaning ´to scrape´) was born.
Raclette is now one of Switzerland´s most cherished national dishes, vying only with distant relative fondue for cheesy supremacy.
The modern way of cooking raclette doesn´t involve any rocks. When produced on a large scale, like at Borough Market in London, half wheels of raclette are heated from above by a special machine, then scraped onto small boiled potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and charcuterie.
The electric home kits are pretty nifty too. They include small pans in which to melt individual slabs of raclette, and a hot plate for cooking bacon, sausages and anything else you fancy.
I was lucky enough to have raclette with my friends Michael and Karin in Zurich and they really pulled out all the stops. Once individual raclette slices were cooked to our liking, we simply poured the melting goodness on top of potatoes, mushrooms, marinated artichokes, sausages, bacon and other tasty accoutrements.
A crisp white wine is the perfect accompaniment to cut through the creaminess of the cheese. Kirsch, cherry flavoured brandy, is also a popular match and comes from the same region that raclette originated.
Has anyone experienced a fabulous raclette outside of Switzerland?