Grazing: The Gooey Joys of Raclette | Bite Club

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Grazing: The Gooey Joys of Raclette

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Whenever my parents would unearth their avocado-green fondue pot, exciting things would follow — namely, dipping chicken tenders into my Dad's killer Schlitz-based beer batter, then frying them into crispy, amoeba-like shapes in the bubbling oil. 

It wasn't until years later that I sampled cheese fondue for the first time and, inspired by the communal gluttony, I purchased my own stainless-steel fondue pot ... which I used approximately twice. Reminded of its existence by my colleague Alice Levitt's recent article on fondue — and inspired to resurrect the tradition — I carted home thousands of calories' worth of cheese along with an Elmore Mountain Bread baguette.

Unfortunately, some of the fondue pot's parts were scattered to the wind, and my Kirsch was showing signs of age.

Fortunately, there's another convivial Swiss tradition for consuming copious amounts of cheese: Raclette, or melted Alpine cheese served with cornichons, pickled onions, boiled potatoes and cured meats. Though it, too, calls for special equipment (an electric raclette melter), a fire of any sort will do. After all, Raclette is hundreds of years old, predating electric outlets.

So I unwrapped my two types of cheese — a brick of squishy, cheap German cheese called Butterkäse, and a wedge of Spring Brook Farm Raclette — and arranged them on a rimmed cookie sheet. I then balanced this, perhaps unwisely, atop the grill of my gas fireplace. (You could use a warm stove, too, heated to 250 degrees or so). The cheeses began to melt and slide around after about three minutes, and within 12 minutes, they were ready to scoop onto the plate. 

The pale-straw-colored Butterkäse, literally "butter cheese," melted the fastest; it's mild and oily, but with a rustic edge. It's also the less expensive of the two. Befitting its name, the Spring Brook Farm Raclette fit the job perfectly: still a quick melter but with an elegant, addictive texture somewhere between silky lemon curd and butter.

Traditionally, as raclette melts, it's scraped onto diners' plates and savored over an hour or more of dipping, smearing and pickle crunching. Without a broiler, my raclette never became brown and bubbly, but it was still warming and scumptious when slathered over a crusty baguette and chased with tangy bites of cornichons, onions and apples. And since cheese and cider are such good pals, it was an ideal time to sample some Flag Hill Farm Sapsucker, a hard "cider beer" made in Vershire that's so dry it almost feels like drinking flannel. Alongside the molten cheese, the barely effervescent cider became rounder, with hints of orange peel, quince and biscuits. 

Raclette feels a little bit like eating deconstructed grilled cheese, but with a few Old World touches to keep it civil. Get it while it's hot, though; once it starts to harden, its appeal rapidly fades.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

One or more images has been removed from this article. For further information, contact web@sevendaysvt.com.

About The Author

Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch

Bio:
Corin Hirsch was a Seven Days food writer from 2011 through 2016. She is the author of Forgotten Drinks of Colonial New England, published by History Press in 2014.

More By This Author

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

 

Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Bite Club

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2021 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Advertising Policy  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation