Raclette comes from the French word racler, which means "to scrape." It's a cheese traditionally eaten in the Swiss and French Alps. Cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they moved cows from the valley pastures up into the mountains. In the evenings around the fire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had melted, scrape it on top of the bread. Today we have easy to use machines to do the melting, but the results are just as delicious. These are our favorite raclettes:
Raclette du Valais AOP-Raclette du Valais AOP is a classic Swiss Raclette made from raw cow's milk in the Valais region of Switzerland. This the most traditional of the raclette's we sell. It is handmade by Eddy Baillifard from his herd of Eringer breed cows that are native to the region. It's silky smooth with taste notes of beef broth and sweet pie crust.
Spring Brook Farm Reading-Reading is a tasty, Vermont made raclette-style cheese. It is made from raw Jersey cow's milk by Jeremy Stephenson. It is a bit milder than our Swiss raclette, with a sweet-funky flavor with milky and fruity notes.
Jasper Hill Farm Highlander-Highlander is a brand new raclette-style cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. Like the others, it is also raw but made from mixed milk, goat, and cow. Highlander's semi-firm, elastic texture gives it excellent melting properties. The cheese has notes of speck, macadamia nuts, and butter with lingering washed-rind aromas. It is nutty, funky, and full-flavored.
Throwing a raclette party is easy. You will need a raclette grill. The grill heats multiple small pans in which guests melt the raclette and then pour it over the different accompaniments. All the host needs to do is supply the equipment and prepped cheese and accompaniments. For dinner, we suggest about a third of a pound of cheese per person. Adjust up or down depending on appetites. Raclette dinner is a perfect winter dinner, and it's also fun! The key is good cheese, a nice variety of cured meats, pickles, olives, veggies, and high quality, crusty bread. You can even grill some sausages to make it even heartier.
These are the accompaniments we always start with:
Charcuterie (cured meats)-Bresaola, speck, and salami
Veggies-Cooked potatoes, steamed broccoli, cherry tomatoes, onions
Pickles-Cornichon or any pickled vegetable. The acidity helps cut the richness of the melted cheese.
Bread- Get a good, crusty, flavorful baguette.
We like to prep all the accompaniments and arrange them on platters and in bowls. It makes them easy to pass. Have your cheesemonger slice the cheese for you; then, when you are ready to eat, you can platter it. We find a dry white wine best with raclette though a light Pinot Noir also makes an excellent match, as does a good beer. The Swiss recommend you don't drink water while eating raclette. It is bad for digestion.
Additional Raclette Party Tips
- When melting the raclette, don't overcook it. Otherwise, the cheese gets grainy and the fat separates.
- To round out your meal, serve a seasonal salad as a starter.
- Do not cut off the rind of the cheese. You'll get a crisp, flavorful crust that is delicious.