We had to make a recent trip to Colorado Springs after a death in the family. While we were there we had some great concentrated family time, which also means some good eatin’. One such experience was a trip to our niece Alisa’s new home. Alisa is the third of four cousins. My two children are the oldest, then Alisa, then her brother Ryan (who is a chef in Germany). But Alisa beat them all to the altar, marrying her sweetheart Greg. They recently moved from Fort Bragg/Fayetteville to Colorado Springs and purchased their first home. Greg has since shipped out to Afghanistan, so we did not get to enjoy his company, but instead got to enjoy his raclette pan. Well…sort of.
I’ve only had raclette once, courtesy of Judy Ware, a contributor to my book , The World Is a Kitchen. During the book tour, she not only set up several events for me in her hometown of Boise, but provided me with accommodations and even hosted a luncheon with her writing group, which featured this tasty dish.
A meal typical to Switzerland and France, raclette is a melted cheese served with a variety of foods and condiments. A simpler version of fondue, if you will. Big wheels of a Swiss-type cheese are heated over an open fire and once the top layer is melted, it is scraped onto a diner’s plate to be eaten with boiled potatoes, meats, veggies, apples, or whatever is handy. It is typically served with cornichons and those baby pickled onions. Most people don’t invest in a whole wheel of cheese, or have an open fire to heat the cheese, so the raclette grill is used.
A raclette grill consists of a grill top to cook your meats and vegetables along with a second level of little serving shovels called coupelles, where you melt slices of the cheese. The cheese is then served over the grilled items. It’s a fun, interactive experience. Well, it would have been if the raclette grill had worked. Although Alisa and Greg had used the appliance before, it refused to turn on, no matter which outlet, extension cord, or swear words were used.
No worries, as a large electric fry pan was unearthed and centered on the table and worked pretty well in heating Saag’s Nuernberger Brats, potatoes and mushrooms, and melting the cheese. Just for fun Alisa brought out the brulee torch so we could add a bit of color to the cheese and hurry it along. (Quick thinking, Alisa!)
And so it was, that we enjoyed raclette and family, not to mention a good long round of Texas Hold ‘Em.