Our top tips and ideas for easily organizing an original and perfect raclette dinner.
Raclette is a unifying and convivial meal.
It’s as suitable on a cold winter evening at the chalet as it is for a romantic meal or as an alternative to cheese fondue.
Although raclette doesn’t require too much preparation, the same questions always come up:
- How much cheese should I bring?
- What varieties of cheese to pick?
- Which side dishes to choose?
We have prepared a short guide for you with our best advice, to easily organize a tasty and original raclette meal.
In this article:
What is raclette?
The term raclette is both the name of the meal and the cheese used for it.
Raclette cheese is made from Swiss cow’s milk in the canton of Valais.
For a raclette meal, it is usually cut into fairly thick slices (a few millimeters thick). It is not meant to be eaten as is, but rather mixed with foods of your choice.
What is the origin of raclette?
Originally, raclette was eaten by shepherds who brought with them a large wheel of this cheese, which they scraped off (racler) as it melted near a fire.
However, raclette has since evolved and now takes multiple forms:
- the traditional Swiss version consists of scraping the cheese as it melts with a specialized scraper (racleur) and serving it on a plate, accompanied with marinades, cold cuts and potatoes;
- in Quebec, raclette meals more often see the use of a small electric oven, which consists of a grill on top and small trays underneath to melt the cheese.
The advantages of raclette
Raclette does not require a lot of preparation, it has the advantage of letting each person eat according to their appetite or personal taste.
And since everything can be prepared in advance, it gives you more time to enjoy the presence of your guests.
Which electric raclette oven should I choose ?
After testing different raclette oven models, my favorite ones are the rectangular models with a non-stick plate (1 ribbed and one flat).
The oven can thus be placed in the center of the table and each person can easily access it.
Raclette meal: what to serve as a starter and for dessert?
Since raclette is a fairly rich meal, it is better to plan a lighter starter, such as a soup or a green salad.
The same logic applies for dessert.
Choose something light and fresh, like a sorbet, fruit salad or a dessert plate where everyone can eat according to their appetite.
Choose your cheeses for raclette
How much cheese will you need?
Allow around 200 grams per person, an amount which may vary depending on the appetite of the guests.
If there are several people at the table, it’s a good idea to plan a little extra quantity of cheese.
How many varieties of cheese to choose?
It’s better to choose 2 or 3 varieties of cheese. If you choose too many different varieties, you risk getting lost in the flavors.
But again, go according to your preferences!
What varieties of cheese to choose for raclette?
There are a multitude of cheeses that can be used for raclette: mustard, pepper, beer and even blue cheese varieties.
And nothing prevents you from using other cheeses for your raclette such as Louis d’Or, aged cheddar or even mozzarella cheese. The main thing is that the cheese melts well!
For a nice balance of flavors, it is recommended to take at least one variety of classic raclette cheese and two varieties of more original cheeses. Here are a few examples:
- classic raclette cheese: Valais raclette, Swiss raclette or Quebec raclette.
- other varieties of raclette cheese: mustard raclette, Compton raclette with pepper, a Montboissié which has a creamier texture, a Bleu Bénédictin or even a sheep cheese from the Abbaye de Belloc which has the advantage of being lactose free for those who are intolerant.
The sides for the raclette
Here are a few side ideas to go with these delicious cheeses.
Which meats and cold cuts to choose?
- Bernese ham La Bernoise
- a dry sausage, for example Si Pousse with red wine
- Grisons meats
- Rosette of Lyon
Marinated meats or seafood
- shrimp marinated in a drizzle of olive oil, with chopped garlic and parsley
- sausages cooked and cut into slices: Italian, chorizo, Toulouse and herbs
- chicken or steak strips
- fondue meat (which has the advantage of cooking quickly)
- smoked salmon
Vegetables and fruits
- cooked baby potatoes (about 3 per person)
- blanched vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower
- zucchini slices (previously marinated in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar)
- Cherry tomatoes
- apple or pear slices
- figs (excellent with blue cheese)
Other side dishes for raclette
- marinades: sweet onions and Gerkins pickles
- condiments : pepper, paprika, smoked paprika, mustards and fondue sauces
Some tips for a successful raclette meal
Here are some tips that will make this dinner planning easier. All you have to do is enjoy!
What can we prepare in advance?
- It is best to cook certain foods, such as vegetables, beforehand so that all that remains is to grill them if desired during the meal:
- blanch certain vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower
- cook the sausages and potatoes in advance
- marinate the meats.
- For meats and seafood, favor strips, fondue meat and other cuts that will allow rapid cooking on the grill.
- Turn on the raclette oven 15 minutes before starting the meal, to allow preheating.
How to eat raclette?
- On the table, arrange several plates of vegetables, cold cuts, meats, seafood, marinades and cheeses, etc.
- People are then free to grill or not the sides and to prepare the small trays as they wish, which can be broiled with melted cheese on top.
- To each their own method: you can grill your food on top of the grill, then brown it with the raclette cheese or simply melt the cheese under the grill while the food is cooking on the top.
Need help making your combinations?
Here are some ideas for your trays:
- Sausages and cheese with mustard
- Chorizo, smoked paprika and cheese
- Asparagus – ham or prosciutto – cheese
- Grilled mushrooms – cheese
- Blue cheese – pear – nuts
- Bread – cold cuts – tomatoes – cheese
And what to do with leftover cheese or cold meats?
Finally, if you have some cheese left over, don’t panic.
It’s possible to use it for gratins, in sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches or croque-monsieur.
If you have any deli meats, like prosciutto, you could also use it in a prosciutto and sundried tomato pasta recipe.
Enjoy your meal!