Want to be retro and cutting edge at the same time? Throw a raclette party. Like fondue, raclette is an age-old Swiss tradition involving melted cheese. Fondue enjoyed an American heyday in the ’70s, but raclette never took hold in this country. That may change with the increasing availability of raclette grills, like this one from Trudeau.
How it works: You slice cheese into the eight small trays and slide them under the heating element to melt; then grill meats, seafood, and vegetables on top. Guests grab what they want from the grill—small potatoes and bread are traditional—and then pour the melted cheese over the top. The result is small bites of gooey goodness. I had some fussy friends over, and it was a great meal solution, as everyone could grill just what he or she wanted. The nonstick surface of this Trudeau grill worked especially well, as the cheese slid right out of the pans, the food developed nice grill marks, and it all cleaned up easily.
Origins: Raclette refers to both the dish made with the cheese and the cheese itself, an Alpine cow’s milk cheese with a creamy consistency that melts easily but doesn’t get too runny. Raclette cheese, made on both the Swiss and French sides of the Alps, is worth seeking out for its nutty smell and slightly salty, fruity taste. But if you can’t find it, use any smooth-melting cheese, such as Gruyère or Gouda.
To buy: The Trudeau Reversible Party Grill set costs $99.99 at Laprimashops.com.