The snow is finally starting to melt to dirty slush here in the city. Cab rides take (and thus cost!) twice as long…driving with extra caution. But I’ve been having hot cider for breakfast every morning and hot chocolate in the evenings, so all is well.
Ben and Sanu invited Monsieur P and I for a Raclette dinner the other evening. They were all familiar with Raclette, having grown up with various versions of this dish, but this was the first time for me. David Lebovitz recently wrote a great on Raclette here.
What exactly is Raclette?
Well it starts off with a lot of cheese. We had just over three pounds between five people. Using Raclette cheese is most common, but you can also use any other good melting cheese. Ben cut the cheese into rectangles to make the Raclette-making process easier at the dinner table.
Yes, pineapple! Pretty cool right? I was initially turned off by the idea of melted cheese and pineapple in the same mouthful, but it turned out to be unexpectedly good. Ben also made his super secret parsley butter (pictured above)…I believe I single handedly wiped out that butter bowl.
Next you turn on the Raclette Machine and everyone has a big glass of wine…Raclette on the way! I’ve spotted Raclette Machines at Whole Foods and Murray’s Cheese, though you can easily find them online. The machine is essentially an electric table top grill with two levels. The top is for grilling (we cooked the bacon and shrimp here), and the bottom level contains individual sized pans called coupelles which are used for melting the cheese. The machine Ben owned has six little coupelles.
There’s a million ways to make Raclette, and we spent much of dinner debating the “correct way.” Do you cooking everything (vegetables, meats) on the grill first and then put the melted cheese on top? Or do you pile the raw vegetables on the coupelles first, then top with cheese and melt it together? But we did agree that the best part was sliding the melted cheese over slices of boiled potatoes and baguettes slathered in parsley butter. A sharp bite of cornichon and then dig in. No shots of the melted cheese – no time, didn’t want the cheese to cool down!
Things got pretty messy after my fifth or sixth serving and I managed to burn my finger (a common theme this month) by lifting the pan by the metal part. A small price to pay for a very enjoyable winter meal. You can have Raclette in any weather, but it’s particularly suitable for snowy cold evenings with good friends. I imagine it just wouldn’t be the same in sunny Honolulu ;)