Do you miss the social bustle of December, but want to have a more chill social experience? Nothing fancy, just a simple meal and great conversation. This is where raclettes and fondues come in!
A Bit of Fondue and Raclette History
The earliest known printed recipe for the modern form of fondue - 'Käss mit Wein zu kochen' to cook cheese with wine - comes from a 1699 book that was published in Zurich, Switzerland. It calls for grated or cut-up cheese to be melted with wine, and for bread to be dipped in it. Since then, fondue has undergone transformations that even included adding eggs and/or cream through the 1800's, to melting chocolate and dipping fruit here in North America.
Raclettes also originated with Swiss cheese recipes and is a fabulous after-skiing meal. The development of raclettes created a different experience by using shallow pans - coupelles - to melt and brown the cheese which is then scraped onto - traditionally - potatoes.
Modern technology has brought us a safer version of an open fire for melting and browning the cheese, and combines the grill and coupelles for easy preparation and serving. The options of what kinds of food to cook varies widely, and can cover over for your appetizers, your main course and your dessert!
Raclette is a French word that means "to scrape". The name is shared with both the cooker, the method and even the official cheese for melting. Official Raclette cheese is made with the raw milk of cows that have grazed in the mountains of Switzerland. These apline cheeses are usually semi-hard, and come in a range of flavours from mild to sharp & strong. Of course you can use any cheese you choose to melt on your food, but if you decide to go for a genuine apline food experience, you will want to look for an official AOP Raclette. AOP stands for Appellation d'Origine Protégée, which translates as Protected Designation of Origin.
Popular foods for:
Cheese Fondue - bread, apples, pears, brocolli, cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms, roasted potatoes, meatballs, roasted brussel sprouts, filet mignon and other steak slices, pickles, shrimp, cured meats, poached chicken, large pasta shapes.
Oil Fondue - breaded squares of cheese, beef, chicken, shrimp and various vegetables that won't take too long too cook. Provide a selection of sauces - soy and sesame; lime, parsley and sour cream; aioli. Separating cooked and uncooked foods is essential, as well as thorougly cooking items like chicken and seafood completely to prevent food poisoning. And there's nothing wrong with precooking items, using the oil for a final heat and finish!
Chocolate Fondue - strawberries, frozen banana chunks, melon squares, brownies, marshmallows, pinapple chunks.
Raclette - all of the above will work beautifully for cooking on a raclette.
Both fondues and raclettes are designed for spending long, dark evenings leisurely socializing. Make sure to have plenty of wine on hand to supply for slow sipping through the evening. You might even want to plan for a delightful Valentine's evening in; there's a tradition that if you lose your food in the fondue pot, you have to kiss the person next to you - perfect for a Valentine's game!
We have a great selection of raclettes and fondues of various sizes and styles available at our store, plus cook book and accessaries, and you can shop them online here: Raclettes and Fondues