The name “raclette” is derived from the French word “racler” and means litterally “to scrape”.
Dishes of melted cheese were mentioned as early as 1291 (the founding year of Switzerland). Melted cheese was originally consumed by peasants in the mountainous Alpine regions of the cantons of Valais and Fribourg (Switzerland). In the evening, the cheese would be placed next to a fire for softening, then scraped onto bread or boiled potatoes.
In Switzerland, raclette is typically served with potatoes, cornichons (gherkins), pickled onions, cold meat as salami, ham, or any other cold-cuts, black tea, other warm beverages, or white wine. Traditionally, it is consumed with black tea, since a warm beverage supposedly improves digestion.
Traditionally the melting happens in front of an open fire, with the big piece of cheese facing the heat. One then regularly scrapes off the melting side. A heat lamp can be used to substitute the open fire, with the cheese being put under the lamp and the melted cheese scraped off, as in the traditional method.
A modern way of serving raclette involves an electric table-top grill with small pans, in which to melt slices of raclette cheese. The device is put in the middle of the table. The cheese is brought to the table sliced. Alternatively, slices of cheese may be put over any kind of food, bread or vegetables and then baked in the oven until the cheese is molten.
There are countless ways to enjoy Raclette Cheese and it is up to your fantasy to create delicious cheese dishes.