A guide to raclette, one of Franceís most popular dishes

25th October, 2016
Although raclette is Swiss in origins, it has in fact evolved to become one of Franceís favourite dishes Ė perhaps because its main ingredient is one of Franceís favourite foods: delicious creamy cheese.

Not only is it served in a number of eateries across France but people also love to prepare it and serve it in their own homes. Whether youíre staying at our St Tropez villas or up in the mountains near the Swiss border, youíll find that raclette is a much-loved dish in France. Its popularity may also be due to the fact that it requires just two simple ingredients: raclette cheese and cooked potatoes.

Restaurant-style raclette

In restaurants, or anywhere which has a professional grill, one half of a raclette wheel is put under the special grill. These grills melt and grill only the upper layer of the cheese, which is then scraped off from the rest of the cheese and served with potatoes. These tend to be boiled potatoes, though they are not always peeled. Some establishments may substitute the potatoes for bread. Silverskin onions and pickles such as gherkins are also often served on the side.

Home-style raclette

Raclette grills for home use are easy to find and relatively cheap, making them a commonplace item in the French kitchen. With home-style raclette, the cheese is first cut into slices, with each slice then put into a small pan and then melted under the grill. Many raclette grills also come with a grilling plate or stone on the top, which people use to grill all kinds of other ingredients to serve alongside the cheese and potatoes. While raclette needs only to consist of cheese and potatoes, many people add all kinds of ingredients to their dishes including bacon, peppers and mushrooms.

The perfect cheese

While raclette isnít always widely available here, itís always best to use Raclette Suisse where you can so that you can ensure you are tasting the real deal. If youíre lucky enough to have several varieties to choose from, make sure you go for one that is slightly darker and dryer on the outer edges. This cheese will have a much more intense aroma and flavour than one which is the same yellow colour all over. For those who are lactose intolerant, there are now lactose-free varieties of raclette cheese available so that everyone can enjoy this tasty dish. Like with many French cheeses, the rind of raclette is also edible, so donít cut it off. Itís many peopleís favourite part of the cheese, as under the grill, it goes lovely and crispy.

Image: Alex Toulemonde, available under Creative Commons