Raclette is an exciting way to switch up your dinner parties! Most people don't quite know about it, what to serve, or what to expect, so here's an easy little guide to throw a great raclette party!
What is it?
Raclette is a semi-firm washed rind cheese that can vary from very pungent to quite mild. Aside from true raclette, the most common comparison would be Oka from Quebec. It's got a bit of funkiness to it, and it's absolutely divine when melted - which is the whole concept behind a Raclette party!
Essentially, you have a machine to cook your foods and melt your cheese, and everybody can serve themselves family style! Below is a guide to explain a little more about the concept, how to serve it, and what to serve it with.
A Raclette is the device used to melt raclette cheese. It sounds a bit bizarre, but it makes sense once you can see the components. The machine is generally made up of 2 parts - the grill and the dishes. The grill is the part that sits on top of a burner, and the dishes sit underneath. You can cook meats, vegetables and other goodies on the top grill while the cheese sits in the dishes below and melts.
The whole system can be circular, square or rectangular, but they all serve the same purpose - to cook some food and melt some cheese!
FLIGHT NOW HAS MACHINES FOR RENT! For more info, click here!
Flight generally always has raclette in stock, but there is a lot of debate on where the best raclette comes from!
The Swiss came up with the first Raclette about 400 years ago, but the French caught on and it's now very popular along the French/Swiss border.
Purists will say that true raclette is from Switzerland and nowhere else, but there is a fairly large following for French raclette as well. Personally, I'm a huge fan of Canadian (Quebec, specifically) raclette because it has a mild enough flavour to please everybody, but enough pizzaz to impress even the snobbiest of cheese snobs. It hits all the points in a cheese that I look for (a little bit of funk, creaminess without being runny, and interesting/unique flavour) and I've personally been the most impressed with those coming from Quebec!
When serving raclette for a party, the guideline for portion sizing is about 200g of cheese per person. You'll be serving a bunch of other goodies with the cheese, but out of all of the raclette parties I've thrown, I think that 200g is the perfect amount. But of course, you can scale up/down depending on the appetite of your guests.
In the case of Raclette, what really makes it special is what you serve it with! The options are endless.
Classically, Raclette in Switzerland is served with 3 things: Potatoes, pickled onions and gherkins. The cheese is poured over mini potatoes, and eaten with the onions or gherkins to brighten up the flavours.
Since Raclette parties have been become more popular, there have been lots of cool things to serve with it too!
All cheese loves fruit, and Raclette is no exception. Serve it with cantaloupe, apples, pears, peaches, mangoes, figs - all of them will brighten up the richness of the cheese for a decadent bite!
To make your dinner feel a bit more complete, it's a great idea to also serve some veggies! If you have a raclette machine with a grill, it also adds an extra element of participations for your guests. Try serving zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant - they'll all add that freshness and roundness to your meal. I love to boil up some potatoes and roast some broccoli ahead of time, but have some raw veggies for my guests to cook, too!
Raclette is super rich and creamy, and it's really important to have some elements that counteract that richness. Cornichons, pickled veggies, olives or pickled onions are an awesome addition to lighten up your raclette. Since everyone can serve themselves, it's a great idea to have different flavour options to cater to each of your guests.
I always make sure to have some crostinis available when serving raclette. Grab a nice baguette from your favourite bakery or grocery store (I love ACE baguettes if I'm not getting something artisanal), slice them up nice and thin, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in a 400°F oven for about 5-10 minutes, until they start to get golden brown around the outside. The crunch is a delicious opposition to the creamy, meltiness of the cheese, and makes for an easy pair for pickier eaters.
Another way to round out your meal is by serving some meat! Chicken and thinly sliced steak are blank slates for the cheese. For food safety purposes, I'd have chicken cooked beforehand, but thinly sliced steak could be cooked on the grill!
Cured meats such as coppa di parma, prosciutto, genoa salami are also excellent accompaniments to raclette. My absolute favourite pairing is a piece of prosciutto with a slice of apple and the raclette. SO GOOD.
When the cheese is melting in its tray, you can definitely add more goodies to mix in with the cheese, as opposed to having cold or room temperature ingredients placed on top after. Try adding some olives, roasted red peppers and tomato slices to your cheese for a Mediterranean twist! Or, try bacon, pineapple chunks and pizza sauce for a Hawaiian pizza flavour! This website has a few other recipes and ideas to make your Raclette party a good one!
Still want some more info?
Check out this video from Well Done on Youtube to see the raclette machine in action!
The possibilities with Raclette are endless! It's an enjoyable way to spend time with loved ones and eat some delicious food!
Thinking of giving Raclette a try? Come on in to Flight & give it a shot!