WHAT IS RACLETTE?
This natural rind, semi-hard, cow’s milk cheese is made in the Alps bordering Switzerland and France. Of the two types, Swiss raclette is more often made from unpasteurized milk. The flesh of the cheese doesn’t tend to separate when melted leading to its’ popularity in fondues.
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WHERE IS RACLETTE MADE?
In Switzerland this fromage is most associated with one of the sunniest cantons in Switzerland, Valais. In France it is made pretty much anywhere though the French Rhône-Alpes is still where it is most popular.
WHY IS RACLETTE THE SQUEGEE OF CHEESE? AND WILL IT BE CLEANING MY CAR’S WINDSHIELD AND THEN ASKING FOR MONEY?
The literal translation of raclette is from the French racler or “squeegee” as a noun and “to scrape” as a verb (which I think is hysterical). While this cheese starts life semi-hard, it doesn’t finish that way. Raclette is one of several cheeses that are eaten by melting the outside of the wheel, and the melted cheese is scraped off and eaten (allowing the new outer layer of cheese to in turn be melted). From the campfires of the middle ages to the fancy grills of today, the process hasn’t changed at all.
WHAT PAIRS BEST WITH RACLETTE?
This is a great fondue cheese if you’re looking for one. Wine-wise rieslings and pinot noirs or otherwise very mild reds can work. When used in a fondue recipe, you are pairing to the stronger flavors in the fondue dish rather then just to the cheese itself. Gherkins, pickled onions and cured meats are also served with this melted fromage. For an alpine cheese tour look to a Beaufort, Cantal or Swiss Gruyere. While raclette can also be used in cheese flights, it is far more fun as a winter fondue experience. If your local cheese shop is out of stock and you need a melting cheese, try a Morbier instead.