What is raclette? Is it a food or a dish? Perhaps it’s a kitchen appliance?
Get ready for an ooey-gooey journey because I’ll answer these questions and more.
Imagine a cheese so meltable that cooking it is the only way to serve it. No, I’m not talking about fondue. I’m talking about raclette.
It is super gooey and incredibly creamy- the quintessence of melty cheese.
Raclette is so dreamy there are special appliances made just for melting it. And there is even a dish named after it.
Read on to discover why cheese lovers cannot stop raving about raclette.
What Is Raclette?
Raclette is a semi-hard melting cheese that falls into the Alpine cow’s milk category.
This style refers to a cheese-making process based on centuries of tradition.
Renowned for its meltability, raclette has a creamy texture and slightly nutty flavor.
As it ages, raclette develops a brownish-orange crust that encases the pale yellow interior. And the rind itself is edible!
Technically, it is a Swiss cheese. But the name comes from “racler,” which means “to scrape” in French.
The name does not just refer to the cheese. It also refers to the traditional Swiss dish that features it.
Melted raclette gets scraped onto boiled potatoes with pickled onions and pickles. Often, people will add meat and other accompaniments to the dish.
When heated, the raclette transforms into a velvety delight. It releases a somewhat intense aroma that some may find off-putting.
But the smell is incredibly enticing if you are a stinky cheese lover!
Where Does Raclette Cheese Come From?
Despite the French-derived name, raclette originated in Switzerland. Like Gruyère and Comté, it’s one of many Alpine cow milk cheeses.
These cows graze the alpine climate, feeding on meadow grass and hay. This gives their milk a terroir, contributing to the distinct flavor profile.
As you can probably guess, Switzerland is the biggest producer. They make up about 80 percent of raclette production!
But they’re not the only producers. Over on the French side of the Alps, they’re making raclette too.
As the terrain ranges, so does the flavor. The French version has different notes than the Swiss version.
Despite the origin, any cheese connoisseur can appreciate the different subtleties in flavor.
What Does Raclette Cheese Taste Like?
As mentioned earlier, the flavor profile can vary by country of origin.
- Swiss Raclette– can be more floral and pungent.
- French Raclette– has a smoother, buttery flavor.
Overall, raclette is nutty, a little sweet, creamy, and aromatic. And despite the smell, it’s not as strongly flavored as you would think.
It tastes more on the mild side. Although, the longer it ages, the stronger it becomes.
Raclette vs. Gruyère
Raclette and Gruyère are both Alpine cow’s milk cheeses. Likewise, they’re also highly meltable and often used interchangeably.
Despite their similarities, there are some clear distinctions.
- Texture– Raclette is a semi-hard cheese. Gruyère is a hard cheese.
- Flavor– Both are nutty and creamy when young. And yet, aged Gruyère is more earthy and complex.
- Aging– Gruyère ages from 6 months to 2 years. Raclette ages for 2-3 months.
- Preparation– People traditionally prepare Raclette by melting and scraping it over boiled potatoes. Gruyère is more common in fondue.
How to Cook With Raclette Cheese
The distinctive thing about raclette is the texture it gets from melting. It’s oh-so-creamy and ooey-gooey when you add heat.
So it’s not surprising there are appliances specifically created for cooking it. After all, it’s supposed to be consumed in its melted state.
There are grills, scrapers, and melting devices made just for this cheese.
Here’s a general guide on how to cook raclette:
- Gather your ingredients. About 8 ounces of raclette per person and some complementary sides. Boiled potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions, cured meats, and a baguette are traditional.
- Stage your raclette appliance. Set it in the middle of the table so everyone can reach it.
- Start melting. Be careful not to overload the grill. And keep your eye on the cheese.
- It only needs a couple of minutes to cook.
But it does not end there. You can turn raclette into fondue for a fun party appetizer. Or bake it and serve it with crostini.
You can add raclette to burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, and more.
Do You Need A Raclette Grill?
Having a raclette grill helps. This device lets you and your guests cook your meal right on the table.
The grill allows everyone to customize their plate and prepare it simultaneously.
But you don’t need a fancy device to cook raclette. All you need is an oven-proof pan or a cast iron skillet.
Start by arranging the slices in the skillet. Next, melt the cheese in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
It only takes a few minutes for the cheese to melt.
Where to Buy Raclette Cheese
Some typical grocery store chains carry raclette. However, you may have limited options to choose from.
Therefore, your best bet is to visit a local cheesemonger. They specialize in all things cheese and carry a wide selection.
These experts can also explain the flavor nuances and help you make a selection.
You can purchase raclette online if you don’t have a cheese shop in your area.
Also, check Whole Foods. This grocery chain offers a wide selection of cheeses from all around the world. So they’re more likely to stock raclette.
How to Store
Like most types of cheese, raclette requires refrigeration for preservation. But you can’t just pop it on the rack.
It needs to be wrapped- and a cheese drawer is always helpful!
To store in the fridge:
- Wrap it first in parchment or waxed paper.
- Then, place it inside an airtight container or zip-top bag.
- Store in the cheese draw or vegetable crisper for up to six weeks.
- Wrap the cheese tightly in plastic to help prevent frostbite.
- Place the cheese into a freezer-safe bag or box.
- Store for up to six months.
- Then, defrost it in the fridge overnight.
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