The dish Raclette is found on most menus throughout the Savoyard region of France and especially in the mountains. The Raclette cheese hails from many regions closely connected, Switzerland, the Haute Savoie and Savoie region of France. It also has a Swiss/German history dating back to 1291 and was known as ‘roasted cheese’. It is a large round semi-firm cow’s cheese in the shape of a wheel that is used for melting. It is normally about 6kg in size.
The Raclette cheese round is normally cut in half or a triangular portion and is heated by a special electric machine with heating elements on two sides, then scraped onto plates.
What is Raclette? Raclette comes from the French verb racler, meaning “to scrape”. This refers to the fact that the melted cheese is scraped from the un-melted part of the cheese onto the plate with a wooden spatula. Raclette is served with hot potatoes (described in the supermarkets as a raclette potato). The potato served is normally a Charlotte, but always a waxy new potato. Small gherkins, pickled onions and charcuterie – jambon cru de Savoie, saucisson, dried beef. I’ve seen a variation on the original cheese, a goats raclette cheese and a smoked raclette cheese.
What wine to drink with Raclette
A Raclette pairs well with the local white Savoie wines: An Apremont, Crepy, Chignon Bergeron or a Fendant and the popular Swiss Chasselas, but Pinot Gris and Reisling are also popular choices to cut through the cheese and bring out the flavours.
Raclette – A sociable meal!
This is a really tasty sociable meal, great shared with friends. Melted cheese over steaming hot potatoes and wonderful local charcuterie all washed down with a good Savoie white wine – Apremont or Crépy. If eating in Switzerland a good local white wine accompaniment would be Chasselas. I have found if I buy the raclette cheese and charcuterie from a local delicatessen or fruitiere/fromagerie they will lend you the raclette machine overnight to use. Bon appétit!
all photos are copyright ©Caro Blackwell