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Although raclette is Swiss in origins, it has in fact
evolved to become one of France’s favourite dishes – perhaps because its main
ingredient is one of France’s 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
you’re staying at our St Tropez villas or up in the mountains near the Swiss
border, you’ll 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 isn’t always widely available here, it’s
always best to use Raclette Suisse where you can so that you can ensure you are
tasting the real deal. If you’re 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 don’t cut it off. It’s many people’s favourite part of the cheese,
as under the grill, it goes lovely and crispy.

Image: Alex Toulemonde, available under Creative Commons

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