Raclette, Food for the Family
Raclette - Family Fun & History
Once again the Swiss came up with a great way of using food to have family fun. It originated in the Alps and goes back several hundred years. Back then it was the fare of shepherds and farmers for the afternoon or evening and is mostly still served in old traditional ways.
A rich, melted cheese is served with or over potatoes and a variety of other vegetables and then served warm. The 'meal' itself is actually named after the popular cheese made out of Swiss cow's milk, Originally from the area near the Matterhorn it eventually made its way to Germany, France, Finland, Austria and even America. It was also known as 'Bratchaes', which is the Swiss-German word for 'roasted cheese'. It has been mentioned in written documents from 1291. 'Raclette' is also derived from the French word meaning 'to scrape', which is what you may have to do when your cheese sticks a little to the pan!
Bring the Family together!
It's actually quite simple:
Bring your family together for a great meal, maybe a good movie; a evening to be together and appreciate something special: Being with those you love!
It can start with the preparation:
You can use a multitude of vegetables that mostly will need slicing:
Squash or zucchini
Peppers (multiple colors)
Onions & garlic
Tomatoes (you can try green, yellow and red for more colors)
Spinach and other greens
Cauliflower or broccoli
Next are the meat options:
Shrimp and Salmon would be worth trying, maybe even Whitefish?
Different cuts of beef
Pork Steak (pork chops tend to be dry easily)
Chicken, Duck or Turkey
Bratwurst or Italian Sausage
You may not be able to get the same cheese the Swiss use, but you can use any cheese you like to eat and that melts easily (Pepper Jack doesn't!). Some options are:
Blue Cheese (a easy to melt kind)
A easy-to-melt Brie may also be an option.
You can use a platter for meat, one for seafood, one for the different vegetables and another one for a selection of cheeses. Arrange your treasures on the platters (different colored cherry or grape tomatoes would make a great decoration if you slice them in half) and place them around the Raclette oven.
The oven my Mom used had a place on the top to brown or warm potatoes and such. It could also be used as grill. If you choose multiple varieties of small/baby potatoes, cook them or fry them in butter until browned, they can also add some color to your table.
Another option is raw baby corn cobs. Mix oil with 'Gyros' seasoning or a seasoning of your choice and cover them with it. Brown them on the grill and they will make a great snack and colorful decoration.
A Meal with Family
After setting up the platters and placing the potatoes on the top, everybody gets one or two of the small skillets.
The golden rule is that the cheese is always on top!
Choose your vegetables and meats and arrange them on the skillet. Add your choice of cheese and ensure that the cheese does not touch the burners. Push the skillet carefully into the Raclette oven.
It won't take long for the cheese to melt and to slightly turn brown. You want to take it out right at when the cheese starts to bubble or turn brown or you may burn it. You also have to keep an eye on it and make sure that the bubbling cheese does not touch the burner. Food on a hot burner stinks and can become a safety issue!
Safety is always a concern when using a Fondue burner or Raclette oven. Children easily forget that they are dealing with something that can become very hot.
Always ensure that the cable of the oven is in a location where nobody can trip over it!
When the cheese is melted to your taste, pull the skillet out and dump it on your plate. If you like to eat your 'mix' with your potatoes, you can either place the potatoes on the plate first and dump the 'mix' on it or just eat them on the side. I usually mash mine, add a little butter, and dump everything on top.
If the cheese sticks to the skillet, you can use the small wooden scoops that should have been provided with the oven. You do not want to use metal, since the skillets are usually non-stick and would get scratched up if you use a fork or knife!
Enjoy your food and the company; and keep repeating the steps until you have your fill!
A Breakfast Version
I had this at a friend's house and thought it was awesome! This may do well as a New Year's breakfast!
A friend had done a champagne/salmon breakfast the year before and we had wanted to do something different the 'morning after'. So we dug out his Raclette oven and dusted it off.
When we were looking around for things to use, we thought about all of our favorite breakfast items and came up with a good list of things to use!
The fun thing about it is that you don't have to stick to just what I mentioned! You can add and/or remove anything you like/don't like! This is one of those things where you can get really creative. Especially when you use colorful ingredients to decorate your table for both a family fun meal or a more sophisticated business breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Instead of choosing lunch or dinner vegetables, you can stick with:
Multiple colors of bell peppers
A variety of mushrooms
Onions and garlic
For a meat addition I would stick to breakfast meats such as:
Breakfast Links (cut in half)
The cheeses to use would be the same as the cheeses used for a 'dinner' version of Raclette.
You can also scramble eggs and turn this into a miniature omelet type breakfast. Just make sure the eggs are done before pulling the skillet out!
When we did this, we also tried some different fruits and thought about using pancake batter.
The fruit we used was:
Blackberries & Raspberries
The procedures to 'cook' your breakfast are the same than when you make regular Raclette. Bring the family together, prepare the food, enjoy the company and the 'meal'!