Saturday, January 1, 2011

Raclette Supper

Seven years ago, we spent our daughter's first Christmas in Quebec with my husband's side of the family. It was a bit of a whirlwind for me - his family is much larger, louder, and Frencher than my side! My family traditions consist of church on Christmas Eve, stockings and presents on Christmas morning, and a big turkey dinner later that day. Sweet and simple. My husband's family traditions consist of traveling around to all the aunts' and uncles' and grandparents' houses for lots of laughter, presents, games, tacky gift-exchanges, brunches, snacks, suppers, etc. It's a little crazy, but it's a lot of fun!

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of my first Quebec Christmas, I discovered the Raclette. My sister-in-law hosted a big raclette supper on Christmas Eve that year, and it was love at first bite! I am forever in her debt for introducing me to what has now become our family's favourite traditional holiday meal!

The simplest way to describe raclette is "fondue on a grill". It's an open-faced grill that sits in the middle of the table, and you can cook your food on top and/or place it in little broiler trays that slide underneath the grill. The traditional Swiss raclette features melted cheese (there's actually a type of cheese called raclette - careful, it stinks to high Heaven, but it's really good once it's melted!), cured meats, boiled potatoes, gherkins, and pickled onions. That's not how we do it, though! Our raclette meal is a feast of the following ingredients:
  • thinly sliced meats (usually chicken and beef) in a couple different marinades
  • seafood (usually shrimp and scallops, but this year we added salmon)
  • cured meats (usually prosciutto and something a little spicier)
  • boiled potatoes (we used quartered baby potatoes and julienned sweet potatoes)
  • assorted diced veggies (bell peppers, onions, mushrooms)
  • french bread (I made homemade baguettes this year!)
  • 3 different kinds of sliced cheese (this year we used smoked Gouda, Provolone, and Meunster)
  • dipping sauces (usually 3 different kinds - this year we had Chipotle Curry mayo, Sweet & Spicy Asian dipping sauce, and one with ketchup/mayo/honey mustard and some 3 Onion Dip Mix)
  • thinly sliced fruit (apples, pears, and/or bananas) that you can place under the broiler with brown sugar and rum (we don't always do this, but it is a delicious way to make dessert!)

Sometimes we don't marinade the meat, but this year we did two different marinades for the chicken and two for the beef:

We grill meat and veggies on top, and then put them in the the broiler trays with a slice of cheese on top. We also put slices of baguette underneath the broiler with a piece of prosciutto and a slice of cheese - it's so good!!

Once the raclette meal is over, two things are certain: you will be incredibly full, and you will have tons of leftovers. You know the story of Jesus feeding 5000 with just a few fish and some loaves of bread? Well the raclette is kind of like that - you start out thinking you'll never have enough food for everyone, and somehow you end up with enough for at least one more large meal!

There are a number of ways you can use up your raclette leftovers. Since we banished the kids to the basement during our New Year's Eve supper, we let them have raclette the next night. There was still some leftover veggies and a little bit of chicken, so the following night I used the potatoes, mushrooms, and onions in a frittata, and I made a small stir-fry with the remaining bell peppers and chicken. Friends of ours always make a huge stir-fry with all the leftovers, and we often use the diced veggies and cheese for omelettes or quiche. It's amazing how far a little bit of food will go! We had 6 adults at our Raclette meal, and I used about 3 chicken breasts, 1 tray of rouladen beef, about 1 c. shrimp & scallops, a very small salmon filet, about 10 slices of prosciutto, 3 bell peppers, 2 small onions, 1 sweet potato, 1 small bag of baby potatoes, about 1 c. sliced mushrooms, and 2 baguettes. And like I said, that was more than enough - way more than enough!

I hope this post will inspire you to try a Raclette meal! Happy New Year!!

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Anonymous said...

This year I wanted to do something different than the traditional North American turkey dinner for Christmas night. I decided our meal would be more reflective of our Europeen ansestry. Raclette it is... Reading your story made my mouth water! It will be a surprise to my family, but I am sure they will love the interaction, participation and delicious flavors. Merry Christmas from Klaus in Mirabel, Quebec

Kathy said...

Thank you for your comment, Klaus! I'm glad you enjoyed my post about raclette, and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this piece on "Raclette".

I've been fortunate enough to enjoy a raclette twice, and even more fortunate to have been gifted one at Christmas.

Looking forward to trying the marinades :D


Tricia said...

I think I need one of these!! Sounds sooooo good!

Kathy said...

Thank you for your post. I'm planning on having a raclette party this weekend. Your menu sure has helped me. Thanks again for posting