How To Take Your Raclette To The Next Level

It's practically a fact that melted cheese is the ultimate cold-weather fix; it changes the texture and taste of harder, more common varieties, turning them delectably gooey. Why dine on a cold ham and cheese sandwich when you can have a perfect grilled cheese or a melt-in-your-mouth croque monsieur?

Though you can certainly warm up any of your favorite cheeses, some varieties were specifically made for melting. Spend your next Friday night skewering vegetables and meats for a savory fondue fountain. Or, skip the fountain altogether and go straight for raclette.

Raclette, fondue's lazy cousin, is a cheese best served warm — and directly from its wheel. According to Raclette NYC, a Manhattan restaurant specializing in the food item, the name raclette comes from the French word "racler," which means "to scrape": the precise action used to move the melted cheese onto the plate. Raclette, which typically blankets foods like potatoes, breads, vegetables, and meats, is a long-standing European tradition favored in the Alps along the Swiss-French border.

Yet because this particular cheese is served from its wheel, making — read: melting — your own is no simple undertaking. Vice acknowledges that do-it-yourself raclette requires an enormous cheese wheel, not to mention a way of expertly warming it up. To ease this process, however, there is one simple fix: getting the right equipment.

Use a raclette-specific melter

If you're serious about your raclette, turn off your oven. Specialty retailers sell melters guaranteed to ease any and all heating concerns. Williams Sonoma, for example, sells a raclette-specific Swissmar grill, while Raclette Corner offers all kinds of equipment for the cheese. These tools position the raclette right up against the heat, melting it to an ideal consistency.

Raclette melters, like the cheese rounds themselves, vary in size. Some are suitable for half-wheels, while others work best for quarter-wheels. To help you decide, Vice specifically recommends round raclette grills for the pure joy of entertaining your friends. No matter what kind of equipment you go for, you can tailor it to your dinner party. Host as many guests as your melter accommodates; you can melt enough cheese for a group with a larger grill, or keep things small and intimate with a melter for two. 

Although this melter may seem like a niche product, you'd be surprised by its versatility. You can also use the specialty grill to cook meat, fish, and vegetables... and warm up your choice of carbs. But even if you're planning to use the tool solely for cheese, that's enough of a reason to get one. With a raclette melter, you can make a meal worthy of a restaurant — not to mention the Swiss Alps.