As I was lying on the beach today in 31°C weather, under the cloudless blue sky, eating strawberry vanilla ice cream (Yes, this really is how my life works at the moment. I know, I am the epitome of glamour, the definition even. Check the dictionary, I’m there), I realised that it had been far too long since I had updated this.
So I made a mental note to fix this issue. I also begun to think about everyone that I left behind at home, and how they are probably all freezing right now as winter begins to creep in. As I chuckled at my good fortune of avoiding winter/laughed at their misfortune of being stuck in it, I knew what the perfect thing to make the cold weather seem not so terrible; Raclette!
Raclette is wonderful, it is a type of cheese which originates from Switzerland or the part of France on the Swiss border. It is also a dish made with said cheese that belongs to the same family as fondue, the machine that you use to make said dish with said cheese, and the party you throw in which you use said machine to make said dish with said cheese. Following?
A couple of weeks ago I went to stay with my friend who lives in Montpellier, most probably the cutest little city I have seen and maybe ever will. It’s about two hours from Marseille so I hopped in a car with a bunch of strangers (which is a lot less dangerous than it sounds since its all sorted through a legit website) and off I went!
Now, Raclette is meant to be a winter food, but I had never tried it and everyone decided that it was something I needed to experience right away. So, after a wonderful day of sightseeing I sat down for a life changing meal.
Another great thing about Raclette is that it is so easy to make, providing you have a Raclette machine… Although we can easily get around that..
Step one: Boil some potatoes. Leave the skin on until after they have cooked so that they keep their shape. Do as many as you want, depending on how many people you are feeding and how hungry everyone is.
Step two that probably should actually go ahead of step one: Assembling your ingredients. This is probably the most time consuming part of the whole process. Slice and arrange whatever you want to eat with your melted cheese. Traditionally the cheese and potatoes are eaten with charcuterie; cured meats. We used ham, a couple of kinds of salami, a kind of blood sausage and some prosciutto but we also included pickled onions and gherkins to trick us into thinking we were being slightly healthy. Oh, and bread, of course.
Step three: Melt your cheese. With the Raclette machine, the cheese sits in mini frying pans underneath the element. I am slightly stuck for ways you could do with without the machine but I guess that melting it in a normal frying pan could work, maybe, as long as it doesn’t stick to the pan and just make a terrible mess.
Anyway, while your cheese is melting put whatever meat you want to eat with it on the element (which I suppose could also be substituted for another frying pan). The element doesn’t need to be oiled or greased because the meat is so fatty anyway, so just slap it on there. Yum! While the meat is toasting and the cheese is melting, peel a potato and cut it into chucks in a bowl or on a plate and wait. When the meat is crispy, or just warm if that’s how you want it, take it off the element carefully and cut it up on top of the potato. Now cover it with the melted cheese and voilà!
Continue this until you’re full, the potatoes and cheese run out or until you pass out into a food coma.
It is meals like this that make me dread the cold European winter a little less… just a little.