Serves 4 to 6
When I mention a book on potatoes, nine people out of ten will ask, hopefully, "Raclette?"
What is it about raclette that is so enticing? I mean, it's a simple dish: sizzling melty cheese, hot boiled potatoes, marinated or pickled onions, or both, as in this recipe. No cooking skills or acrobatics required. But perhaps that is it exactly. Raclette is all about the potatoes, and the cheese. And the temperature: you must keep the cheese hot. and the potatoes pretty warm, too, or the cheese seizes up unappealingly. For perfection in the temperature and organizational department, there are special machines to melt the edges of the cheese, so that each little plate of raclette can be tempting from start to finish, and you can then progress to another plate of the deliciousness. Lacking a special machine, I line up little baking pans and warm a stack of little plates.
Raclette, by the way, is the name of the French and Swiss mountain cheeses the dish is based on; they are similar but by no means the same—taste both and decide which is your favorite. I quite often make raclette using whichever cheese I happen to have in the house; recently I made a mixture of young (twelve months) Grana Padano and Jack, sprinkled with white wine, and it was terrific.
1. To make the marinated onions: Place the sliced red onions in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, to cover. Leave for about thirty minutes, to soften in both texture and flavor.
2. Drain, then combine with the sugar and vinegar. Set aside. This can be made four or five days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
3. To make the raclette: Cook the potatoes in gently boiling salted water until they are just tender, but not overcooked. Drain, then return to the pot; cover and keep them hot.
4. Divide the cheese into three batches and arrange in three pans. Sprinkle the cheese with the wine.
5. Arrange the marinated onions in a bowl and place on the table, along with the cornichons and pickled onions.
6. Heat the broiler, and warm small plates (preferably one per person for each batch of raclette so that the dish can be eaten piping hot) in the oven. When ready to go, place several hot potatoes onto the first batch of hot plates.
7. Place the first pan of cheese under the broiler. Heat, watching the cheese all the while so that it doesn't burn, until it melts and sizzles; remove immediately and divide the cheese into individual portions onto each hot plate of potatoes. Whisk immediately to the table, so that the potatoes can be eaten hot, with the pickles.
8. When the first round of potatoes and cheese is finished, gather up the plates and repeat. Three rounds of potatoes and cheese should please even the most passionate of cheese-and-potato-holics.
Visit All About Potatoes featuring dozens of potato recipes
65 Downright Delicious Recipes
by Betty Marlena Spieler
Photographs by Sheri Giblin
Chronicle Books 2007
$18.95; Paperback; 180 pp; 24 color photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created December 2007
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