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TRADITIONAL FRENCH FOOD: RACLETTE (FOR CHEESE LOVERS)

What is it?

I went to Marseille to visit a friend. She's Colombian and has been living with her sister for quite a few years in France. It is a pleasure to go and visit people who love cooking. One day when it was so cold we were frozen to the bone, Sofia had an idea that raclette would warm us up. I don't want to give anything away, but it really came through.

COMIDA TÍPICA DE FRANCIA: RACLETTE (PARA AMANTES DEL QUESO)

Raclette is one of the most typical French dishes, the best of all is that it is really easy to "cook", if that can be called cooking, and it is so good. This recipe was invented by Swiss shepherds in the nineteenth century in the Canton of Valais. Originally, it wasn't called "raclette", it was called roasted cheese.

It is one of those essential meals to have when you're doing winter sports or on any day when you need a hit of warmth and energy.

It is a dish in which the star ingredient is, once again, cheese. You could say that the raclette is a dish of "cheese with whatever else you want".

3 Good reasons to make a raclette.

1. A main meal: a big main meal, raclette is really easy and practical to make.

2. Easy to personalise: you can make it whichever way you want, choosing from the ingredients which appeal to you the most, eat a lot or a little, have your cheese really or barely melted, with or without the rind, with or without gherkins, etc.

3. Really easy: Apart from boiling the potatoes beforehand or even preparing a nice salad, it doesn't require any preparation, except for pre-heating the raclette machine 10 or 15 minutes before you start cooking, for optimum efficiency.

4. Surprising: Seeing how simple it is, for someone who had never tried this, it's a dish that will leave everyone who's eaten it wowed. The dynamics and interaction involved in its production make the food a game.

5. It's too good.

The only negative is that if you want to make it the French way, you will have to buy a special machine to make the raclette, although it is possible to do it with a grill.

COMIDA TÍPICA DE FRANCIA: RACLETTE (PARA AMANTES DEL QUESO)

Step 1:

The first thing you have to do is go to the supermarket. Another thing that I love about the raclette is that you can personalise it, so you can leave out some ingredients so that everyone can eat it.

Our shopping list.

-Special cheese for raclette (we buy 3 packets of this to feed 6 people).

-Serrano ham (very finely sliced).

Sausage.

Beef fillet.

Cherry tomatoes (they can be big ones which you serve chopped).

Avacados.

Potatoes.

Bread.

Green onions and gherkins to serve.

Wine to serve.

Step 2:

This is what we brought but really you can put in whatever appeals to you. In my opinion, you can't skip the potatoes. We cooked them in salted boiling water for 20-25 minutes, then let them cool down a bit. Cooking the potatoes depends on what type you choose and their size. To see if they are cooked. you can cut one of them with a knife. It should be easy to pierce it.

The cheese can come in a block or pre-cut. We chose the easy option, but if you haven't, cut the cheese into pieces (which are not too thin nor too thick) and leave the rind. You can serve the pieces on a plate so that everyone can take cheese at the rate that they are eating.

A good idea is to serve this dish with a fresh salad because cheese contains more calories after cooking it.

Whilst putting all the ingredients on the table, all on separate dishes, you can start heating the raclette machine. Collect the raclettes, which are small spatulas over the part which heats up. It doesn't take long to heat up and be ready for use so don't get distracted!

comida-tipica-de-francia-raclette-para-a

Step 3 (important): eat

My favourite thing about this dish is that each diner is their own chef. You have a load of ingredients at your disposition and your own raclette paddle. Put one of the cheese slices on your paddle and serve whichever ingredients you want on your plate.

I recommend starting by taking a potato and peel it so it starts to cool down. Add more ingredients meanwhile keeping an eye on your cheese. When you think it is melted enough, take your paddle and put the cheese over the other ingredients that you have on your plate. Put another piece of cheese on the paddle and put it on the machine so it can heat up while you enjoy the food that you have just made.

comida-tipica-de-francia-raclette-para-a

It is an active food because you get to try different combinations meanwhile constantly preparing your food.

Raclette is one of those meals where you can't stop talking with the others at your table about it, only speaking about how good the food is or how your combination of ingredients tasted.

To make your raclette more original and surprise your guests, you can choose different types of cheese, like Cabra (goats' cheese) Maroilles, Saint-Nectaire or Fourme d'Ambert (blue cheese). As France is well known for its excellent cheese, it would be horrible to deprive yourself of these choices.

Advice and ideas:

1) Make it a bit healthier.

It's really a recipe which those who are allergic, vegetarian or who have other intolerances would not have a problem with as you can choose to add whatever you want to it, those who are trying to get into to shape could be a bit frustrated by this dish. It is extremely calorific. As cheese is cheese, and no one can say a word against it, we are going to contrast this. To avoid fats, so giving more life and freshness to our raclette, you can substitute the meats for vegetables. Choose those that are in season: Mushrooms, cucumber, fennel, leeks, tomatoes... Whatever you want, there's not a limit.

Advice: cook leeks, onions, cabbage, chicories in pieces, cook them in steam or boil them beforehand.

2) What to drink?

To drink, water can be great to lower the heaviness of this filling food, but as you already know, like for the Spanish with bread and whatever drink, it's the same for the French with cheese and wine. As students, we weren't too bougie, and we went for the cheapest wine, but the French try to choose wine based on the type of cheese. So whether Cabra (goats' cheese) or cows' cheese, Swiss or Savoie cheese, you can opt for a regional wine to make sure it's alright. They won't turn down a rosé from Lyon or a Savoy white wine.

COMIDA TÍPICA DE FRANCIA: RACLETTE (PARA AMANTES DEL QUESO)


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