French Raclette : What French region is raclette from?
Raclette is a semi-hard cheese from the French Alps made from cow's milk. The name comes from the French word racler, which means "to scrape," as the melted cheese was typically scraped off the cheese wheel onto people's plates.
Traditionally, a quarter wheel of Raclette is placed on a unique heated table and then melted with a particular heating element placed right on top of the cheese. It's a communal dish served with boiled or steamed potatoes and gherkins or cornichons, pickled onions, or small pickled gherkins. It becomes quite a hearty meal when you throw in some ham and bread.
Name of Raclette is originated from French
The name comes from French racler ("to scrape"). According to folklore, Raclette was first eaten in the Swiss canton of Valais by farmers who kept cows up high during the summer months and needed a way to preserve some of their milk. In everyday use, it refers to the machine used for cooking or warming and the dish made using these appliances.
Raclette is a Swiss dish based on heating the cheese and scraping the melted part (racler). It was already mentioned in medieval texts in the Swiss-German area, and nowadays, it is one of the national dishes. Traditionally, melting happens next to open fire with the big piece of cheese facing the heat. Nowadays, raclette machines are used, which have heated plates or grill surfaces next to which people place their plate of ingredients to be cooked or warmed.
What does Raclette consist of?
A full raclette dinner consists of potatoes, pickled onions and gherkins, and other accompaniments such as dried meat, prosciutto, salami, and other local cured meats, as well as crusty bread. The most popular accompaniment to Raclette is new potatoes, which are often boiled with their skin on. Small gherkins, pickled onions, or pickled mushrooms are also commonly served. Traditionally it was also filled with pearl onions (échalotes), rubbed with garlic and parsley before cooking.
Some traditionalists only eat these foods with raclette cheese because they believe it brings out the best flavors. More modernly, people often eat sliced charcuterie, salmon, or a salad with their raclette cheese.
Taste of Raclette
Raclette is a cheese made from cow milk, and it is named after the French word for "to scrape," which refers to one of the most popular ways to enjoy it — melted and scraped onto food.
Raclette has a semi-firm texture, with a consistent interior and natural rind. The flavor profile can vary widely based on how long the cheese has been aged. Younger Raclette has a mild and creamy texture, while aged varieties are more intense and nutty, with an almost crystalline texture inside.
Most cheeses have one or two main uses, but Raclette is so versatile that it's hard to say what it tastes best with. In France, the traditional way to eat Raclette is hot and melted over potatoes, along with charcuterie, cornichons, and other pickled items like onions or mushrooms. It's incredibly delicious when mixed with steamed vegetables like broccoli or carrots. Alternatively, you can make tartiflette, which adds bacon for extra flavor.
It's also great on its own as part of a cheese plate, either served cold or warmed up in a particular raclette grill (a small appliance explicitly designed for this task), unlike many kinds of cheese that are meant to be.
The best way I can think to describe Raclette is as a cross between fondue and nachos — but there's more to it than melting cheese and piling on the toppings.
Here's how it works:
- You heat a unique grill that has a few compartments for heating various foods, such as meats, veggies, seafood, and a big block of raclette cheese.
- You place thinly sliced pieces of the cheese under your grill's heating element until the top starts to melt.
- Once melted, you scrape off the gooey cheese onto plates of food.
- Your meal consists of various raw items that you can cook on your grill (such as potatoes, mushrooms, and sausages) or eat plain (like bread, cornichons, and pickled onions).
- Everyone huddles around the grill, getting their food cooked just right before scraping some melted cheese over it.
Difference between Fondue and Raclette
Fondue and Raclette are both traditional Alpine dishes, and they have a lot in common. Both words involve melting cheese, and most of the time, both dishes involve dipping bread into that melted cheese. But there are some crucial differences:
Raclette is a dish based on cheese; fondue is a method of cooking or eating.
Raclette originates in the French-speaking Swiss canton of Valais, where it's still trendy; the Swiss Cheese Union invented fondue in the 1930s to use up excess cheeses.
Fondue is made with several different types of cheese, including Gruyere and Emmenthaler, which are both from Switzerland; Raclette is made from Raclette (a kind of Swiss cheese), usually from cow's milk (although there are exceptions).
Fondue can be prepared using either a fondue pot or another more conventional pan (like a frying pan); Raclette requires special equipment like an electric grill with individual pans for each diner.
What goes well with Raclette?
With such a rich, fatty cheese as Raclette, you want to serve dishes that will cut through and cleanse your palate. This is why potatoes are so well suited to Raclette. The starchy potato is the perfect vessel for the cheese and softens and melts in your mouth after eating. Other neutral vegetables like carrots, celery, and cucumber help balance the dish. You can incorporate steamed or boiled meats like ham or sausage for protein.
You'll want something acidic to cut through the fatty cheese in terms of wine. A dry white or sparkling rosé would work nicely with this meal.
Serving the Raclette
When it comes to serving food, Raclette is a social event. Everyone gathers around with drinks in hand, and then the cheese is melted and scraped onto anything you can think of. Raclettes are best-served family-style and shared with friends, so don't be afraid to get creative!
Raclette is excellent served on its own, but pairing it with charcuterie (cured meats), pickled vegetables, and olives will allow your guests to build their cheese plates. If you're looking to serve something more substantial, consider potato dishes like the classic French fries or a simple potato gratin. The French often eat a tartiflette — a simple potato dish with Raclette. If you want to try your hand at making an authentic French dish, try some fondue there’s no better way to enjoy Raclette than by melting it into another cheese!
How to get rid of the Raclette smell?
The smell of Raclette is powerful and penetrates the clothes. For this reason, it is essential to remove it immediately. It should also be noted that the scent of cheese, if it has remained on the clothes for too long, is more challenging to eliminate.
It's best to start by rinsing your clothes in cold water. If this does not work, you can soak them in hot water with vinegar for thirty minutes. Then wash them at 40°C with a product suitable for wool or silk fabric.
Here are more tips and tricks to get rid of raclette odor from your clothes:
- Soak your clothes in warm water with a bit of bicarbonate of soda before washing them. Remember to rinse them thoroughly after soaking.
- Add a few drops of white vinegar while washing your items.
- Some people recommend adding lemon juice during the soaking process or using ammonia instead of vinegar. However, these methods are very aggressive and should be avoided unless you are desperate!
What to serve with Raclette
Raclette is a dish that is both comforting and well-balanced. We recommend serving Raclette with at least two different side dishes to achieve the right balance of flavors, aromas, and textures.
- The classic accompaniment to Raclette is potatoes. They can be boiled, roasted, or fried, but they're best served raw, grated, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a good lug of olive oil.
- We suggest serving a salad made from fresh produce like tomatoes or char-grilled vegetables for vegetarians.
- On the other hand, for meat lovers or just those who want to add some protein to the meal, serve cold cuts like ham or sausage alongside your cheese.
Desserts that goes with Raclette
It's essential to have a little of everything on your raclette grill—a variety of cheeses, meats, vegetables, and bread.
But the essential thing is dessert. It's all about having a variety of sweet treats to accompany the melted cheese—you know something to satisfy that sweet tooth after a long day of eating salty meats and vegetables!
Raclette is made by melting a half-wheel of cheese over a fire. As it melts, you scrape off the gooey goodness and eat it with potatoes and charcuterie. Here are some of the best desserts to go with Raclette:
- Nutella with strawberries
- Caramelized apples
- Chocolate cake
Wines that go well with Raclette
Here are a few recommendations for wines that go well with Raclette:
Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir's lower tannin and higher acidity make Raclette an ideal pairing partner. The lighter body balances the richness of the cheese, while its earthy notes bring out the flavors of the dish.
Riesling: A German Riesling is a great choice thanks to its bright acidity, which cuts through the heaviness of Raclette, and sweetness, which accents the sharp flavor of the cheese.
Sauvignon Blanc: This crisp white wine has herbal notes that complement Raclettes nutty flavors and high acidity, perfect for cutting through the cheesiness!
Chardonnay: Chardonnays work well with Raclette because they have buttery and creamy notes that match nicely with this dish's oozing cheese.
What to serve with Raclette? Here are some suggestions.
Potatoes: Potatoes are a classic raclette food and serve them boiled, roasted, or pan-fried. Boil some tiny new potatoes and serve them with melted cheese.
Vegetables: Try corn cobs on the cob, mushrooms, and asparagus spears. Serve raw vegetables as crudités to dip into the melted cheese. Carrots, celery, fennel, and sweet pepper strips work well here.
Meats: Cook thin slices of ham or salami and serve them with melted cheese.
Onion/shallots: Onions and shallots are easy to prepare and cook quickly on the grill.
Peppers: Cut peppers into thick slices, brush with olive oil, and cook until soft and browned.
Raclette is a type of cheese that can be served melted in various ways with different accompaniments.
There are two main types:
- The first is the semi-hard Raclette, which is cut into thick slices, heated on a unique grill, and then scraped off onto plates. This is most commonly seen in restaurants.
- The second version is the soft Raclette, traditionally served at home. To do this, you heat a large block of cheese and scrape it onto plates as it melts.
Both versions are fantastic!
Popularity of Raclette in the UK
Raclette is a delicious Swiss dish that has recently become more popular in the UK. The dish 'Raclette' comes from the French word 'racler,' meaning 'to scrape.' Raclette is traditionally served with a giant wheel of cheese, scraped onto a plate. The main ingredients of Raclette are potatoes and meat, and the cheese melt is added to this to make it even tastier!
Raclette can be made in several ways, and it can be served as a hot sandwich or even on an omelet, and it's often eaten with a side salad or pickles.
If you're thinking about trying Raclette, here are some tips:
- Choose the correct type of cheese, including traditional styles such as Raclette de Valais from France or Switzerland or Gruyere from France or Switzerland. You can also use semi-hard or hard cheeses like cheddar, Emmental, or Comté.
- Other ingredients include charcuterie (ham or different types of cured meat), cooked meats such as chicken or pork loin, cooked bacon, smoked salmon, cooked shrimp, and small sausages such as bratwurst or frankfurters.
So try these tips and enjoy your Raclette.