The Joy Of Raclette Grilling!

Raclette... what the heck is raclette?

Well, think of it as a combination of fondue and BBQ. It's the most fun way to have a party or a gathering or a celebration for your family.

It's special. It's unique. And you'll amaze your friends when you invite them over for a different kind of dinner. It's the name of a meal that can be an entire meal or just as a fun appetizer.

The name comes from the practice of melting cheese and the French word "racler" meaning "to scrape."

History buffs will tell you that this custom of melting cheese began on the faraway hillsides of the Valais region of Switzerland. This is recorded around the end of the 19th century. During the fall when life got chilly, and the wine harvest was coming to an end, the grape harvesters would bring their bagged or sacked lunches made up of a little loaf of brown bread, sometimes some cheese, and always, a bottle of wine.

As legends are told, the custom of raclette began with the men stabbing a piece of cheese with a large buck knife. They would then go to the fire made up for warmth and hold the stabbed cheese over the fire. As the cheese made contact, it would start to melt. The result was a beautiful golden texture just perfect for sopping up with bread or whatever else they had in their sacks.

As the men slowly scraped the melting cheese, others recognized how good it all tasted. And good it was! So begins a custom of grilling cheese that has a long tradition in both Switzerland and France.

Grilling Raclette cheese is only part of it.

Not only will you be thrilled with this fun and easy way to entertain, but anybody you introduce to it will immediatly want to have their own grill.

These recipes are many and varied. I've tried to include a couple of the best ones and will continue to add more as time goes on. There are endless varieties and ways in which to use this wonderful mode of cooking.

Below are some of my favorite recipes and some information about cheese and indoor grilling. Enjoy and grill to your heart's content!

Traditional Swiss
Classic or traditional Swiss Raclette is a simple meal that can be enjoyed by all. Invite your inlaws or boss's family to discover the absolutely unique and yummy taste of Switzerland.

What you'll need:
- 2 lbs/1kg small new potatoes
- 1 1/2 lbs/800g Swiss Raclette cheese, cut into slices

Side dishes:
- A selection of ham, such as proscuitto, parma ham etc.
- Baguettes
- Gherkins, pickled onions
- Fresh pepper.

First, wash the potatoes and boil them in their skin until cooked. Place the potatoes, cheese and all side dishes on the table. Place a slice of cheese into a raclette dish and place under the grill to melt. When the cheese has melted scrape it onto the potatoes, gherkins and pickled onions.

Grind fresh pepper on top and enjoy the melted cheese concoction you just made with your choice of ham and a piece of warm baguette. This serves 8 people.

A wonderful wine to drink with this meal is a light white wine such as Swiss Neufchatel Blanc or California Fumé Blanc.

Other cheeses such as Tilsit, Grey Alp Cheese, Appenzeller & Emmental can also be used.

Brie Raclette
Brie Raclette is a new twist on an old tradition. As our tastes evolve and time is always of the essence, substituting the traditional Raclette cheese with Brie is a tasty and satisfactory solution.

Finding Raclette cheese isn't always easy. So, when in a hurry, try this recipe using Brie cheese instead. A Brie Raclette will melt faster and the cheese is very easy to find in your local grocery store.

What you'll need:
- 1 1/2 lbs brie cheese, rind removed
- 1 1/2 lbs tiny new potatoes or boiling potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 lbs broccoli, thick stems removed, tops cut into florets
- 1 1/2 lbs mushrooms, halved or mushrooms, quartered if large
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cocktail onions

First, heat the oven to 400°. Cut the Brie into thin slices and divide the cheese among four small ovenproof dishes or ramekins.

Next, put the potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the broccoli florets to the pan and simmer until the potatoes and broccoli are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Drain the potatoes and, if using new potatoes, cut them in quarters when cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, toss the mushrooms with the oil and salt. Put the mushrooms on a baking sheet and roast until browned and tender, turning once, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and then turn the oven off.

Put the dishes of cheese in the oven and leave until the cheese just melts, 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pile the potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, and cocktail onions on individual plates. Serve each portion of melted Brie immediately, along with the vegetables for dipping.

Wine recommendation: Try the wines of the Loire Valley in France, such as a Chinon or Saumur-Champigny. The fruity flavor not only complements this raclette dinner, but will make you feel warm, loved and oh so good!

Voila! There you have a beautiful meal to be enjoyed by all. A truly tasty cheesy treat. Enjoy!

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About The Author, Sara Gray
Sara Gray is an avid lover of appetizers and has created a great website called Easy Appetizer Recipes where you can find delicious ideas for all kinds of hot and cold appetizers, raclette grilling, tapas small plates, snacks, chips and dip ideas, and appetizer soups.