Even if modern raclette has little in common with the Swiss original, the most important aspect survives: the coziness and leisure of sitting around the table together while grilling and cooking your food.
In another era, Swiss raclette was a very simple meal. Half a cheese round was heated in front of an open fireplace and the melting cheese was scraped onto potatoes, layer by layer. However, that old world method is a bit impractical for most modern households. Today, many retailers offer a variety of electric raclette machines in different models and price ranges. Any of the raclette machines you may purchase the principle is always the same. The ingredients are placed in small, non-stick raclette dishes to cook under a heating element.
The raclette machines most frequently sold today have a non-stick grill above the heating element and trays. This lets you grill meat, fish, or vegetables on top while the cheese melts in the trays below. Many of the recipes in this book were developed for this type of appliance, allowing more variety in the type of meals you can prepare.
Grilling is an ancient technique that as a cooking method is low-fat and wonderfully aromatic, especially when you can cook your meal right at the table. The hot stone is pre-heated on the raclette machine's heating element. The heating element maintains a constant temperature and can be adjusted higher or lower by a control.
The main attraction at a raclette party is the variety of ingredients and individual dishes that each guest can prepare in his or her own raclette cooking dish. This also makes raclette an ideal meal for children because they can select the foods they like best. Not to mention, children love to take part in the actual cooking. But make sure an adult sits next to each child, both to help and to keep an eye on the hot utensils.
For a raclette dinner party, table decorations should be kept to a minimum. The table will already be full with buffet plates, the appliance itself, and the different bowls of ingredients. You also have to be able to pass the ingredients around and set them down again. So pay attention to selecting the right utensils rather than to fancy decorations. Have fun cooking with your friends!
The type of drinks you provide (in addition to a sufficient amount of water) mainly depend on the preferences of your guests. As a general rule, beer goes best with hearty raclette dishes and wine goes best with more sophisticated, finely seasoned dishes.
Dinner is served
If well planned and prepared far enough in advance, a raclette meal can also be a pleasure for the host, who won't have to be running back and forth to the kitchen.