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Articles - Gourmet Pleasures:

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Easy entertaining with raclette

Raclette has its origins in the simple food of Swiss peasant farmers. Way back in the middle ages there are descriptions of them putting a chunk of cheese near the fire and then, as the outer layer melts, scraping it off with a wooden spatula. Today’s sophisticated raclette sets allow each guest to fill his raclette pan with a choice of ingredients, cover them with cheese slices and melt the cheese on a tabletop grill. You don’t have to use special raclette cheese, any cheese that melts easily – like Emmental, Gouda, Tilsit or camembert – is suitable.

Include anything that tastes good

You can serve almost anything with raclette. Go for bright colours, different shapes and textures. Try sliced red, yellow and green peppers, mini sweetcorn, artichoke hearts, pickled onions, cherry tomatoes, ham and salami. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, leek and parsnips cooked but still crunchy are delicious with melted cheese. Or try prawns with avocado sauce and flaked almonds. You can also grill slices of chicken or pork fillet or make mini vegetable kebabs with courgettes, aubergine and onions, or stuffed mushrooms.

And still more!

Potatoes boiled in their skins are the traditional accompaniment to raclette. A mixed salad is also good, or a fresh crisp baguette. If you’re grilling chicken or meat at the table, then serve a choice of dips and sauces and a bowl of fresh chopped herbs, like basil, rosemary and thyme. When you’re shopping, calculate on roughly 250 g cheese and 200 g potatoes boiled in their skins.

Desserts and wines

You and your guests can cook your own desserts on the tabletop grill. One suggestion might be raclette with fruit and nuts. Try apple slices marinated in calvados with walnuts. Or prepare a pancake mix and cook mini pancakes in the raclette pans. In Switzerland the traditional drink is a glass of dry white wine, but if you prefer serve a light red wine or a cool beer.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de