This is actually a very short adventure because set-up is amazingly simple. However, the fun we had was certainly not limited by this quickness! A few weeks ago I ordered a mini-raclette machine from wine.woot for $30. It seemed to take forever but it finally did arrive in time for my mom’s visit this past weekend. And we happily got to put it into use!
This is, as I said, an adventure that was short in set up but long in fun and tasty enjoyment. We started by having Adam D rinse off the little melting pans, scrapers and the removable grill of the mini-raclette. Since I wasn’t sure that the device would be in in-time for the weekend I had gotten a few cheeses and was still full-up on potatoes in the pantry but was lacking a few other options that I would have added, had I thought of them before-hand.
Basically the dish of Raclette is a fun group activity sort of similar to Fondu: in that it involves self-service activity and copious amounts of cheese. That is where the similarity to Fondu ends though. Raclette involves melting small amounts of cheese in individual pans to pour over chunks of cooked potatoes. Other bits of food to have are various lunchmeats (we just had ham and some bacon that I cut into 3rds), gerkins, onions, anything else you can think of; which, in my case, meant some black olives and crusty bread but could also mean small quail eggs or mushrooms or what-have-you.
Preparation only involved cutting some of the many potatoes I still had into bite-sized chunks and boiling them, until tender, in salted water. Then I drained them and set them in a serving bowl for everyone to grab as much as they wanted.
The cheeses I used were some sharp Cheddar and soft Havarti. While the original dish calls for the cheese “raclette”, for which the dish is named, the possibilities are limited only by what you enjoy and are able to eat/digest! I sliced these into melt-able sized slices; pretty much what you would see/do for a cheese platter.
I drained a can of black olives and set a few of those alongside some gherkins and very finely sliced rounds of fresh onions from our CSA. Because they weren’t previously pickled or cooked I wanted the onions very thin so they would grill up quickly. I also cut up the few pieces of crusty bread that I had left into bite-sized chunks.
Then I just sliced up the few slices of bacon I had in the fridge into thirds and the lunchmeat (ham) into thin, grillable strips.
The grilling bacon added the best aroma to the house and my mom said the slight grease they left behind was perfect for grilling up the onions!
Everyone had fun melting the cheese, grilling stuff up and getting full on cheese and potatoes. It was a wonderful adventure!
Next time I’d love to add thinly sliced mushrooms to the mix; perhaps even pre-cooked a bit so they would grill up quickly.
- Cheese(s) – Any kind, in an amount suitable to the size of the group that will be eating. 2 blocks of cheese was vastly more than we 3 needed.
- Lunchmeats – Ham or prosciutto is usual but be adventuresome. Bacon was a hit but takes a while to cook but some very thinly sliced steak would likely be delicious too. I’d think tofo would have a great flavor if grilled after the onions and perhaps mushrooms.
- Small pickled (or very thinly sliced) onions
- Mushrooms, other thinly sliced (or previously blanched) veggies of your choice. Be wild! Maybe some eggplants or green beans or squash, anything you have on hand!
- Potatoes, cubed in bite-sized chunks
- Crusty bread
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add your cubed potatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender.
- Drain potatoes and put into serving dish
- Cut your cheese(s) into meltable sized slices that will fit into your melting dishes
- Slice up your meats for grilling
- Slice up your veggies (I didn’t do this for the gherkins but would probably slice them too next time)
- Chunk-up your bread if you’re having it
- Put everything out in dishes and equip folks with the melting pans and access to the grill
- Go wild, grilling and melting to your heart’s and stomach’s content.
The mini-raclette we used had only 2 pans but was perfect for the 3 of us to use in turns. I’d think even 4 people could happily share it. If you’re more the sort who hosts larger parties then feel free to look up some of the pricier sets geared for larger groups.
Enjoy this cheesy adventure! Go forth and melt/grill til you sit back, full and smiling from tasty overload.