Raclette may not be a household word in most American kitchens, but it should be. I first had the Swiss cheese when I was in Germany a few years ago served melted over potatoes. When I couldn’t find any locally, I sadly put the recipe aside. But I never forgot the tasty cheese-potato dish.
Then, last week, much to my surprise, I ran onto a chunk of Swiss raclette while scavenging the cheese display at Schnucks. I was so excited! I snatched it up right away and bought a few potatoes to give the dish a try. (I’ve since been told raclette can be had at Whole Foods and Trader Joe, as well.)
So Simple, Yet So Good
The soft-textured cheese, made from raw cow’s milk, originated in the Swiss Alps hundreds of years ago. Traditionally, raclette was the fare of shepherds and farmers, who would place a block of cheese by a hearth or campfire. When the face of the cheese softened, the gooey goodness was scraped onto potatoes and served with pickles and onions.
Today melting is done with a raclette heating device or a small cast iron skillet placed under the broiler.
The recipe I made used boiled potatoes. (See photo above.) It also called for a topping of cornichons, but, alas, my cornichons were at the farm, so I subbed scallions tops. It wasn’t the same. Later, I found Martha’s Stewart’s recipe. She, too, had been smitten by the simple deliciousness of what was, basically, a two-ingredient recipe. Her video clip shows how to serve the cheese as an appetizer over fingerlings potatoes or small pieces of toast.
Martha rubbed the slices in olive oil and browned them in the oven. This gave the slices a crispy exterior, that I hadn’t achieved in the more traditional boiling. She also cut the potatoes thinner. And, of course, she had cornichons in her pantry to give a pickley munch. She even used a raclette heater (a $20 collapsible gadget available at Amazon—though her heating gizmo looked a little more upscale). Raclette knives are also available for those who need more kitchen gadgetry.
- 3/4 lbs. fingerling potatoes, sliced into 1/4″ rounds or lengthwise
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt
- 4 oz. thinly sliced raclette cheese
- Thinly sliced cornichons for topping
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss potatoes with olive oil and salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, tossing halfway through, until golden, about 17 minutes. Transfer potatoes to an ovenproof skillet. Top with raclette. Bake until bubbly, about 5 minutes.
Top with cornichons, and serve with toothpicks.
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