weekends / ringing in 2012 with raclette

Raclette is a type of Swiss-French cheese. It smells unless you’re cooking/eating it. You grill the cheese on a bottom layer. Once it’s at the right melting point, you pour it on top of cooked potatoes, charcuterie, veggies, etc. You can also grill veggies on the top of the grill and/or keep your potatoes warm (depends on your grill). It’s similar to hotpot in that it’s easy to organize and does not require cooking skills.

I’d discovered raclette when I was in Zurich a few years ago and revisited it in Paris at my friend’s housewarming dinner. That friend graciously gifted me a raclette grill, and another friend here offered up his place, which led to a small gathering for a simple NYE raclette dinner.

New Yorkers have it easy. While in Paris, I helped my friend prep and we had to divide and conquer, i.e. go to this store for bread, that store for roses, and another place for wine, etc. We have a grocery delivery service called FreshDirect that has almost everything you need, except the grill and fresh baguettes. The fresh baguettes were easily solved – the market down my street gets daily delivered from TomCat and Balthazar. You can also buy cored pineapple, already cooked beets, peeled shallots, etc. Wash/slice/plate everything else hotpot style and you’re ready to eat!

We also had tons of dessert, both homemade (with a special dose of luck inside) and store-bought. I was so stuffed and could barely eat it! I’m looking forward to another raclette party some time in the near future. Hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve!

Recipe for a raclette party for 8:

  • Grill – there are plenty on Amazon. This dinner is somewhat limited to the # of trays you have to grill cheese on. Murray’s Cheese in NYC also reportedly rents them.
  • Alcohol – white wine and bubbly.
  • Cheese – we tried French Raclette and Risler Square Raclette. We were estimating about 0.5 lb/per person. The cheese comes unsliced from FreshDirect and slicing it looked like no easy feat. It might be easier to get this from a cheese shop and ask if they can slice it?
  • Charcuterie – I got different types of ham, turkey breast, chorizo, salami, and soppressata. Prefer thinly sliced. Also estimated about 0.5 lb/per person.
  • Veggies – roasted beet salad, fresh asparagus, bell peppers, shallots (and/or onions – beware of breath), button mushrooms, zucchini.
  • Fruits – fruit is supposed to balance the richness of the cheese/meat. Go with what’s in season. We had Pink Lady apples, pineapple, and pears. Strawberries were for snacking or for dropping into the bubbly.
  • Spices – we had a pepper grinder. I forgot my paprika.
  • Cornichons (or gherkins) – 0.5 lb was more than enough.
  • Baguette – when we were prepping in Paris, my friend said the French serve bread at every meal. I got a thin, airy baguette from Balthazar. It went fast though.
  • Baby Creamer Potatoes – given that we also had bread and tons of veggies, I only got 48 oz. They were tricolor – how pretty are the purple potatoes! Cook these beforehand.

With leftovers, you can fire up the grill again or nuke a bowl of layered meat/veggies/potatoes/cheese. Equally delicious!

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