The holidays are about spending time with the people you love, so why not host a party that will keep you at the dinner table instead of in the kitchen. We’ve partnered with Madeline Lu, founder of Madeline Lu, to show you how to host a raclette party.
Hosting dinner parties on special occasions, such as New Year’s Eve, can be a daunting experience. It starts with the pressure of trying to create the best-ever evening for your guests, then planning the perfect dishes that would fit everyone’s dietary requirements (meat-lover, vegan, vegetarian, special allergies, etc), after that is the shopping in the super crowded food markets and realizing that they don’t have that single most important ingredient you need any more. By this point, we haven’t even started cooking yet. Then it is the hours of peeling, chopping, boiling, frying, making sure everything is done and served at the right time to the right guest. It gives me the chill just to think about it.
That’s exactly why I am introducing you to Raclette Grill today. Having raclette grill parties is something I have picked up during our years living in Switzerland and Germany. The Swiss, Germans and Austrians eat raclette regularly in winter, and it has become increasingly popular to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve this way.
There are three things you need to know about hosting a raclette grill party: it is super easy, you don’t have to be a good cook to do it, and it is guaranteed that everyone will be well fed and have a good time (including you) in the end!
First of all, you need to have a Raclette Grill. There are different types, round one, square one, etc, but what I like the most is the one you can find in Crate and Barrel, which has a granite cooktop, 8 wood spatulas and non-stick raclette dishes. It is very easy to handle (just plug in and turn up the heat) and even easier to clean (soak in hot soapy water overnight and clean off with a sponge the next day). No scrubbing needed.
The preparation for a raclette party is basically some shopping and chopping. The most common ingredients for a raclette party are various cheeses (see more descriptions on cheeses below), boiled potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, bread, pickled gherkins, cured meat, bacon, and much more. Nothing that you can’t find in a common supermarket. You can also make your own sauces if you prefer. I am all for making things easier, so you can just purchase some high-quality ready-made sauces. However, if you really want to impress your guests, I also provide you with a homemade Tzaziki sauce (which takes you less than 10 mins to make). Another plus of doing raclette is that any leftover food (cooked or uncooked) can be used for another meal.
The next step is to set the table. Place the raclette in the middle of the table, and then all chopped and sliced ingredients around the center. If you have a large party, divide each ingredient into two dishes and put one on each side of the table.
Once you’re ready, preheat the raclette grill. To avoid the veggies and meat getting stuck on the granite plate, brush some butter/olive oil/coconut oil on top. Use the raclette dishes for cheese and add some veggies or meat either in the dish or on the granite top. If your cheese gets stuck to a raclette dish, easily scrape it off with the wood spatula or a piece of bread.
The best part of hosting a raclette New Year’s Eve party is instead of trying to please everyone and cook everyone’s favorite dish, you let the raclette grill cook to everyone’s taste. Guests can be creative and decide on their own toppings (based on their dietary preferences). You can do almost no wrong to it. No matter what combination you do, the food that comes out is tasty and savory. While the cheese is sizzling and the foods are being cooked, you’ll also be able to enjoy your company and sip your favorite drink. No more sweating alone for hours in the kitchen! I have hosted many raclette grill parties before, and my guests were always satisfied (actually, stuffed more like, including kids) in the end and no one is going home hungry. And did I mention that easy tidy-up afterwards?
Just remember, the secret to a successful raclette party is to keep things simple. Enjoy and have the best time!
There are lots of choices of cheese for raclette. I’ve listed some of my favorites below.
- Gouda: Traditionally made with cow’s milk, it has mild and tangy flavors. Melts very well.
- Havarti: Danish style semisoft cow’s milk cheese. It has a buttery, sweet and acidic flavor. Can be grilled or melted.
- Muenster: American semisoft cow’s milk cheese. Muenster is pale in color and smooth in texture with an orange rind, which is a sweet and nutty seasoning. Muenster usually has a very mild flavor and smooth, soft texture. Melts very well.
- Cheddar: A firm cheese from cow’s milk. Cheddar has 45-50% fat. It can be a white, yellow or orange color. Creamy consistency with few holes, ranging from firm and elastic to slightly crumby. It has acidic and nutty flavors. Melts very well.
- Raclette: A firm cheese from cow’s milk. It ranges from ivory to golden color with a soft and creamy consistency with few holes. Flavor can range from mildly fruity to aromatic depending on the degree of ripeness. Of course, it is perfect for raclette grill.
- Gruyère: A firm cheese from raw cow’s milk. It ranges from ivory to yellow color with scattered holes. It has a sweet but slightly salty taste, with a flavor that varies widely with age. Melts very well.
Next comes the vegetables:
- Tomatoes: I used baby tomatoes, as they are sweeter than the bigger ones, no chopping is required and they’re easy to cook.
- Mushrooms: Thinly sliced.
- Zucchini: Thinly sliced.
- Bell peppers: Thinly sliced. They are perfect to add color to any raclette grill creation.
- Potatoes: Boil potatoes until they are cooked through.
- Onions: Thinly sliced.
- Asparagus: Wrapped with parma hams.
Last but not least, don’t forget:
- Bacon: Sliced.
- Bread: Best kind to use is French baguette, little bread rolls.
And to top it off: