The temperatures have dropped. The sweaters are out. The booties are on. The fireplace is fireplacing. Must be that time of year. What time of year?
Swiss winter cooking time of year, of course.
And this dish is so simple that even a husband can do it.
Traditional Raclette cheese comes from Switzerland and France (or so the French claim), and in restaurants it’s served by taking a half-wheel of Raclette and placing it cut-side facing the roaring fire until is melts, and then the melted portion is scrapped onto some eager, hungry person’s plate. That might work great for a restaurant, but it’s pretty impractical and not nearly as much fun as using a Raclette oven/grill at home.
For this dish you’ll need a semi-firm cheese (Raclette if you can find it, but we’ve found that Gouda works equally well and we’ve actually grown to prefer the flavor.
You’ll also need a jar of fire-roasted red peppers and dill-pickled gherkins (small, cucumber-like vegetable):
And freshly boiled small new potatoes:
Pearl onions are also a traditional accompaniment, but Ursula is not a big fan so we forgo these little wonders.
Place the Raclette oven/grill on your dining room table and get it good and hot. Give your guests their own Raclette tray to load with your chosen cheese and place under the heating coils. Meanwhile, keep those boiled potatoes warm by placing them on a plate atop the oven/grill.
While the cheese is melting, grab a couple of potatoes and thinly slice them onto your plate. Pile on some gherkins and red pepper while you’re at it.
Using a small wooden spatula, occasionally stir your cheese so that it melts evenly and thoroughly. Heat until it gets nice and bubbly.
Pour the melted cheese over your potato slices and season with some freshly cracked pepper—white pepper being the traditional choice, but I prefer black.
Instant party, people!
But don’t forget the wine. Go with something white and dry. Fendant is what is served with Raclette in Switzerland, but it’s hard to find here in the U.S. Instead, try a good Pinot Grigio (Cavit of Italy makes a readily available, exceedingly affordable and, most importantly, consistently good Pinot Grigio no matter what the vintage—I’ve yet to have a bad bottle in all the years I’ve been buying it). Johannisberg Riesling is also a good choice, as long as it’s dry.
Finicky Kids Tip: Our oldest daughter throws in kid-yucky vegetables—broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, and the like. The cheese disguises the vitamins (SHhhhh—it’s a secret).