Raclette – Traditional Swiss ‘Peasant’ Food

Swiss 'peasant' food: Raclette, melted cheese, herbs, cherry tomato, bacon and onion.

Swiss ‘peasant’ food: Raclette (shown here: melted cheese, herbs, cherry tomato, bacon and onion.)

Switzerland’s most beloved dish is Raclette. A hearty and inexpensive meal perfected for centuries in the Alps. Traditionally, this hobo-style meal was meant to satisfy big appetites in cold winter weather and was made out of just cheese, potatoes and vegetables—all ingredients grown in the mountains. Adding meat became popular when the dish hit populated areas, and now it is open to many interpretations. Because it is served family style, table-side, it is ideal to share among family and in group settings.

The Grill:  While Raclette can be made in the kitchen, it is more festive when prepared table-side, and to do that, you will need Raclette grill (about $100). While you are at it, order up some Raclette cheese and seasoning as well.

Raclette cheese is more pungent and softer than Swiss cheese (the Swiss know Tilsiter as “Swiss” cheese, Americans know Emmenthaler as “Swiss” cheese.)  It is made from leftover scraps—the stuff that doesn’t “make the cut” to become Swiss/Tilsiter/Emmenthaler cheese.

Got the grill? Fire up the sterno! Got the cheese? Slice it up! Place it on the table and get started with the rest of the ingredients:

  • Small white potatoes

Boiled and cooled, then drizzled with a small bit of olive oil and sea salt.

  • Baguette

Sliced, toasted and served warm. 

  • Sliced beef and/or chicken

Grill meat in a sauté pan on your stove top, transfer to a dish, and bring to the table.

  • Veggies

Sliced peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, grilled. Transfer to a dish and bring to the table.  

  • Pickled items

Cornichon (petite dill pickles), pickled onions, baby pickled corns.

  • Seasonings

Go simple: Raclette seasoning, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. 


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One Comment on “Raclette – Traditional Swiss ‘Peasant’ Food”

  1. Megan
    February 16, 2013 at 8:07 PM #

    Mmm. Raclette. I like paprika and pepper as seasonings on mine.

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