Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Swiss Shepherds and T.J. Sochi!

In honor of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, I wanted to throw a party for the opening ceremony and began researching Russian cuisine. After an exhausted search, I concluded that meat jello, pickled everything, salted herring, salo (cured pork fat), beets, and vodka would not make a festive affair for my American comrades. While Russia does have some specialties, such as Salad Olivier and Veal Orloff, these were created by Belgium and French chefs who were hired by the Russian nobility, no doubt in search of better cuisine. After this horrifying picture, I gave up!

"A picture is worth a thousand words!"

So, with the weather as cold and snowy as I can ever remember, I decided to borrow from the Swiss. No, not fondue, but raclette! Raclette is a melted cheese dish that has been popular for many centuries and originated with the Swiss shepherds. The shepherds would move their herds into the mountains for grazing in the warm summer months. With limited supplies of potatoes, flour, gherkins, and a round of cheese, they would cut the wheel of cheese in half and place it on a rock near the fire's edge. As the cheese began to melt, they would scrape some off to a plate of potatoes and pickles. The word "raclette" comes from the French word "racler" meaning "to scrape off," and is the same name of the cheese that is traditionally used for this dish. 

So, I dusted off my Swissmar Raclette/Grill, purchased some Raclette cheese and some Apremont Vin De Savoie Blanc (which my cheesemonger said was authentic with raclette), made room on my luckily large-enough coffee table, set out some low stools and pillows, and let the party begin! This is a great party idea that can all be prepped ahead of time! Everyone had a great time, even my kids! In fact, it was so much fun that instead of packing my raclette away, I plan on having another party to watch the US Men's Hockey game, which I am currently recording! Go Blues!

How to Throw a Raclette Party

Ingredients (Pick and choose as you like!):

Traditional Raclette
1/4 lb Raclette cheese per person, sliced (e.g., 1 lb for 4) (Other Swiss cheeses can be used, such as Tilsit, Grey Alp Cheese, Appenzeller, etc.)
Sausage, such as smoked sausage like Kielbasa, etc., cut into slices (see package information for serving size)
Ham, sliced
Bacon, sliced and cut in half
Thinly sliced onions
1 lb boiled baby potatoes per 4 people
Baguette slices
Pickled pearl onions
Paprika (to sprinkle as desired)
Salt and white pepper

Contemporary Raclette
Vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, etc.)
Fruit, sliced (pineapple, apple, banana, etc.)
Chicken, Beef, or Pork (cut into small pieces or skewered)
Fish (cut into small pieces)
Seafood (such as shrimp)
Pizza sauce and pizza cheese
Tortillas and Monterrey jack


Set up
Place a large cutting board on a table large enough to hold all your ingredients, raclette/grill, and plates/utensils. Set raclette on large cutting board and make sure you have an outlet available. (You may have to use an extension cord.) Make separate platters to attractively arrange the meat(s), fish or shellfish, cheese(s), and vegetables, etc. Organize condiments with spoons and forks, as needed. Set aside enough wine glasses and napkins, as needed. 

Once everyone has arrived, turn on raclette. Once hot, place little slices of cheese in the nonstick dishes that slide in under the nonstick ribbed grill plate. Once the cheese is melted, using the plastic scrapers, slide cheese onto individual serving plates and eat with potatoes or bread (toasted on top grill plate and sprinkled with a little wine). Grill the sausage, bacon, or other meat or seafood on top, as you go. All the combinations are up to you and your guests. The sky's the limit! For my picky young ones, they like to make mini "pizzas," grill fruit, or make little quesadillas to their liking, with adult supervision, of course! Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment