There’s something quite special and sociable about sharing Raclette with friends or family. The great thing about the dish is that it’s incredibly flexible and allows you to add plenty of different side items to allow it to be a dish to suit everyone’s taste. From vegetables and herbs, meats and pickles, there’s plenty of choice and ways to make each and every Raclette different, enjoyable, tasty and fun!
The name Raclette comes from the French word racler, which means to scrape. It’s a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese that is usually fashioned into a wheel of about 13 lbs. Fromage à raclette is matured for at least two months. A great deal of this type of cheese is made in the Alps and in Franche-Comté.
The cheese has got a thin, brownish-orange coloured rind and a pale yellow paste with a few scattered open holes. It is has a very distinctive pleasant, aromatic smell with a creamy texture, similar to French Emmental, which does not separate even when melted.
The taste of this cheese is straightforward and very flavourful. The flavour can vary from nutty, slightly acidic to milky.
How to store it?
Wrap Raclette in its original paper or in plastic film. Store this cheese in the vegetable compartment of your fridge, for 3 weeks maximum.
What to cook with it?
Raclette is also the name of the French dish where the cheese is melted in front of a fire or a special machine and the melted parts are scraped onto diner’s plates. It is then served with small potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and dried meat such as jambon cru/cuit and Viandes de Grisons.
What to pair it with?
With a salty, nutty flavour and silky, smooth texture, Raclette is delicious melted and served with bread, boiled potatoes, roasted root vegetables, and cured meats.
What to drink with it ?
In Europe: Try it with a nutty white wine from Savoie or a fruity, medium-bodied red Pinot Noir. But also: Indian red tea served warm.
For 4 people
- 1.8lb. Raclette cheese
- 2.5lb. firm-boiled potatoes
- 12 slices of smoked beef
- 6 slices of ham off the bone (optional *pork)
- 12 small onions
- 1oz. butter
- 1.5oz. caster sugar
On the Side
- Thyme flower
- A small pinch of fleur de sel
- 2g ground pepper
- Steam the potatoes until they become soft inside.
- Put the onions in a Dutch oven, with butter and sugar. Pour in a bit of water and warm over low heat for 25 minutes.
- Cut smoked beef and ham into fine slices.
- Peel the skin from potatoes, thinly slice them into rounds and place them on the small raclette pans.
- Add a slice of meat on the top, powder with thyme flower and cover with Raclette cheese.
- Place the Raclette under the grill until the cheese is melted then serve
- Place the rest of the meat, potatoes and cheese slices on the table, to serve as refills.
- Serve pickles and onions as an accompaniment.
Recipe from Cheese of Europe.
The proof is in the tasting. Gorgeous melted raclette with vegetables.
Cheesemonger, Francois Robin (pictured right), took us through a blind taste test, no pictures I’m afraid as we were blind folded and wearing a nose clip – most gorgeous! But actually, what a revelation it is to do a tasting with these two senses switched off!
Impress your guests
During the masterclass, we also learned how to make a few simple recipes which are bound to some easy culinary flair to your cheese. For our demonstration two different soft cheeses were cut horizontally and were then filled with a mixture of fruits and nuts, think creatively here, you have lots of possibilities. Perfect for a dinner party or festive table, this would be quick, effective and tasty!
We also warmed ourselves on a simple to make, super tasty, and ‘bound to get the conversation flowing’ cheese fondue which he made using a tea infusion rather than alcohol for the Middle Eastern market.
My Cheesy Past …
Can you believe, that it’s only in the last few years that I’ve become adventurous with cheese. I was a very unadventurous with my cheese choices, choosing either a strong hearty cheddar cheese, or a soft cream cheese with very little in between. I am now loving learning more about different cheeses and ways of enjoying them. After lots of tasting sessions and visits to a few cheese makers, plus spending time with Francois, I am a firm believer that there’s a cheese out therefore everyone’s taste!
Petit Reblochon de Savoie
The takeaway gift from the Cheese of Europe masterclass was a Petit Reblochon de Savoie.
Reblochon – Is a PDO, Protected Designation of Origin, soft cows milk cheese from the Haute-Savoie and Val d’Arly regions in Savoie, France. It’s semi soft, rich and creamy and is mild in taste. The cheese is made from the milk produced from the second milking, a technique originally developed by mountain farmers to reduce taxes payable to the landowners.
We devoured the cheese simply with crackers, chutneys and dried fruits over the next few days. Mild, yet creamy it was delicious. It has 45% fat which means it has a gorgeous mouthfeel and the outer washed rind adds a further depth to the cheese, which for me was pleasant and added to the overall tasting experience, although some prefer to leave this bit.
Cooking with Reblochon:
Tartiflette (a gratin of potatoes, bacon and onions) is probably the most well known dish. I’ve found another great recipe which is booked marked for another time >> Baked Reblochon Pithivier style, which I found over on Taste of Savoie. You can find the recipe HERE
More information on European Cheese can be found at the Cheeses of Europe website.