Raclette is essentially melted cheese, served over boiled potatoes with lots of ground black pepper, accompanied by small pickled onions and gherkins. The name comes from the French verb “racler”, to scrape, because of the way the melted cheese is scraped off the block.
A modern way of serving raclette involves an electric table-top grill with small pans, known as coupelles, in which to melt slices of raclette cheese. Generally the grill is surmounted by a hot plate or griddle. The cheese is brought to the table sliced, accompanied by platters of boiled or steamed potatoes, other vegetables and charcuterie. These are then mixed with potatoes and topped with cheese in the small, wedge-shaped coupelles that are placed under the grill to melt and brown the cheese. Alternatively, slices of cheese may be melted and simply poured over food on the plate. The emphasis in raclette dining is on relaxed and sociable eating and drinking, the meal often running to several hours.
However if you do not own such a grill, and I do not, there is still a way to enjoy this amazing dish. Simply use a sauté pan and voila – dinner is served, in all its all gooey and melting deliciousness.
1 precooked smoked sausage (I used a saucisse de Morteau)
800 g / 1.7 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic
8 slices raclette cheese
5 g / 1 teaspoon butter
Large pinch of Herbs de Provence
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the sausage into bite sized pieces
Melt the butter in a sauté pan
Add the onion, garlic and the sausage and lightly brown
Boil the potatoes until almost cooked
Drain and cut into cubes
Add the potatoes to the pan
Add the herbs de Provence and cook all for about 5 minutes
Remove from the heat
Add salt and pepper
Add the cheese and cover with a lid to allow the cheese to melt
Serve with a green salad