You’re probably familiar with fondue, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the Swiss have yet another delicious way to consume melted cheese with a group of your loved ones. It’s called raclette—fondue’s hotter, more dynamic cousin. For a guide to this new-to-you feast, read on.
Raclette is a semi-hard cheese that originated in Switzerland. When served cold, it’s nothing special, but when it’s heated, watch out. The cheese’s flavors blossom into something sweet, nutty, and insanely creamy with a crispy, chewy crust.
Raclette also refers to the most popular method of serving this cheese. With fondue, cheese is kept molten and bubbly in a hot pot. But raclette kicks this up a notch, by grilling the cheese so it develops that crust’ diners then scrape it onto boiled potatoes or bread.
In a traditional raclette maker, like the one above and available on our site, a section of the wheel of cheese is fastened to the contraption’s arm, and its heat source begins to soften the surface. When it’s soft enough, you swing the arm out, scrape that molten goodness onto potatoes or bread (or whatever else), then swing it back to melt some more.
The traditional method is great for one or two people. But more than that, and you have a party, and for a raclette party, you want a raclette grill, which does much more than just melt cheese.
This is where the real fun comes in. Like fondue, a raclette dinner is great for a group. Most raclette grills are designed for up to 8–10 people. Also like a fondue (or even hot pot), the cooking implement goes right in the middle of the table. Step by step, here’s how you create a raclette party.
What you’ll need:
Since this is your first raclette party, start with beef and shrimp for the protein, as they take less time to cook. For veggies, try mushrooms, asparagus, onions, and peppers. Of course, don’t forget the traditional potatoes and bread. Keeping things simple, and keeping options low are a good way to start if you’ve never done raclette before.
Aside from boiling potatoes though, the only prep work you have to do is slicing everything else, including the cheese—all the cooking is done on the grill.
As raclette cheese can be expensive, you can also add other cheese to the mix, such as cheddar, brie, or mozzarella, anything that melts (and caramelizes) well.
Underneath the grill top, you’ll see little shallow pans—these are for the cheese. Fill each one with some chunks of cheese and slide them in. They’ll sit under the burner, gaining that nutty crust while getting nice and creamy beneath the surface.
Those same pans can be used atop the grill to keep veggies together as they cook. Guests can also place meats and veggies directly on the topside grill to sear while they wait for the cheese to melt.
And just like fondue, guests are free to create their own combinations, scraping the bubbly cheese on top of whatever they’d like.
The best part of this meal: the casual camaraderie that emerges as you chat and cook and share your creations.