Raclette is a semi-hard cheese made on both sides of the French and Swiss Alps. Raclette du Valais or Fromage à Raclette, as they are traditionally called, are made using the milk of cows grazing on the alpine meadows. The name comes from the French word ‘racler’, which means ‘to scrape’.
The cheese has a thin, brownish-orange coloured rind and pale yellow flesh (the ‘pâte’ of the cheese) with a few scattered open holes. It is has a distinctive aromatic smell and a creamy texture, similar to Gruyère cheese, and does not separate even when melted. The flavour can vary from nutty and slightly acidic to milky.
To serve raclette cheese Swiss style, ideally you require a purpose-built raclette grill. In some mountain restaurants, however, the cheese is melted in front of an open fire then scraped onto the plate, to be served with traditional condiments. We prefer the open fire method for melting the cheese. These are some suggested accompaniments: air-dried meats, potato wafers, sourdough baguette, pickled golden shallots and pickled radishes.
Pickled Golden Shallots
500g golden shallots
500ml malt vinegar
½ long red chilli, deseeded, finely diced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp pickling spice mix
1. Blanch shallots in salted boiling water then peel.
2. In a medium saucepan add malt vinegar, honey, the salt, chilli, bay leaves and pickling spice mix. Bring to boil and dissolve the honey.
3. Remove from heat and while still hot pour over blanched shallots.
4. Allow to cool in pickling liquid to infuse flavours. Can be preserved in jars.
2 bunches radishes, quartered
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup water
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 small knob ginger, peeled, grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
2 tsp salt
1. Place vinegar, water, maple syrup, ginger, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, then add radishes to the liquid.
3. Allow pickling liquid and radishes to cool and infuse flavours. Can be preserved in jars.