Friday, 19 February 2010

Making a raclette

Saturday at noon my phone went. It was C, from my local French family. “Have you had raclette?” I was asked. My mind thumbed through the old brain cells in a vain attempt to find some reference point on which to base an intelligent reply. Was it a disease? Some kind of sport perhaps involving the use of tennis rackets as snow shoes? I remembered that in the distant days when I was investigating trailer tents, that Raclette was one of the makes that I looked at.

Of course these deliberations took a mere fraction of a second on my personal super-computer. “I don’t think so” I replied.

“Do you know what raclette is?” I confessed that I didn’t. I gathered that it was some sort of meal involving cheese, so I said that I was available for the experience.

An hour later saw me once again in their kitchen. There was a large platter of thin slices of posh smoked meats and discs of sliced dried / smoked sausage.

A small table had been positioned at one end of the kitchen dining table and on it sat a round electrical plate, with a heating element below, under which were a series of 8 little pizza slice shaped mini-cooking pans.

The apparatus was plugged into the wall near the sink, and the electrical cord stretched across in mid air to said round machine.

I was informed that when they had switched on the machine, it tripped the main power switch, but that they had discovered that by unplugging the fridge freezer, their power supply was man enough for the job.

Apparently there are 2 different levels of power supply, with the higher power option costing more, so they have the one with less juice.

C told me that raclette was a special type of meal eaten only during the winter months. Special raclette cheese is available only during these months. The procedure for eating was explained to me. You put a slice of raclette cheese into your little non-stick triangular pan and place it under the heating element. You take a baked potato and scrape the skin off (I said that I would eat mine with the skin on, so C took it off my plate and scraped the almost non existent skin off my potato. Did I not realise that all the pesticides were in the skin? I said that I wasn’t worried, so she then said that she had not washed the potatoes. I said that I was not worried about that either). Freshly scraped potato on my plate, I had to select some meat and put that on my plate too. The cheese in my little pan was now bubbling away, so I retrieved it and was shown how to tip the cheese out onto my plate. The next step was to eat a bit of potato, cheese and meat at the same time.

This process was repeated until the potatoes and the cheese ran out.

Once I was home again, I looked up raclette in my French / Eng dictionary. I means melted cheese. In the old days before the electric raclette machine, people would place the big round of cheese near the fire and scrape (racler) the melted cheese off it onto the food on their plate. Further searching and I find out that raclette cooking comes from Switzerland

This form of communal cooking, not to be confused with a fondue, now leaps out at me from the weekly publicity, the cheese counters, and in the electrical sections of shops, whereas before I had not noticed the word at all.

Looking at I see that they sell these machines too. The top hot plate can be non stick metal, for cooking pieces of meat or crepes. Some have heated stone tops for searing your pieces of meat, fish or vegetables. The most ambitious not only have the upper cooking surface, but also a fondue pot as well! The Leclerc eco brand raclette grill costs just under 20 euros! There are also recipe books for this form of cooking.

Now time for a siesta before tonight’s community get-together.

1 comment:

  1. I got in trouble not only for eating the potato skin myself, but for encouraging the children to eat the potato skin by eating it in front of them.



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