Food + DrinkReview
Forget mini raclette grills: you’re not a real cheese lover until you have this
All the large raclette grills in our range promise to let you raclette like a pro. Here’s what happened when I put one of them to the test. Spoiler: I can’t go back to those little pans now.
Do you know who the real saviours always are for me at Christmas markets up and down the country? Raclette sellers. They stretch out half wheels of cheese under a heating coil and serve you raclette as it should be. And by that I mean a generous portion with a brown crust.
In actual fact, this original form of raclette is the only real one. Raclette on a table grill might be a great party concept, but the cheese will never be as creamy or come out as perfectly scalloped. But where has my sudden obsession with raclette come from? When I was in the canton of Valais a few weeks ago, I picked up half a wheel of raclette from the local, organic cheese dairy.
That’s where my idea for team «Raclette Tuesday» came from.
Function over design
Although you can get table grills in many shapes, colours and styles, raclette grills for half cheese wheels aren’t elegant. They have an air of: «I’m ugly but I can do the job.» That’s also clear in the grill features – or lack of them. There’s no optional table grill and no temperature regulator. To all intents and purposes, they’re grills for raclette purists – anything else is rubbish. For this test, I’ll be using the «TTM Ambiance», which lets you stretch out half a wheel of cheese.
Thanks to TTM products, it will be easy for you to spoil your family and guests with culinary delights.
The grill is very easy to put together: screw the cheese holder onto the thread then attach the grill with a screw. Plug it in, flick the switch and the grill will start heating up. Next, screw the half cheese into the cheese holder – like it was a vice – until the cheese is sitting on the surface. And now it’s time to get cooking.
Clamp me! A half cheese attached to the holder
Brace yourself to be stressed
This is no device for slowcoaches. As soon as the half cheese is about 2 cm under the heater, you only need to wait around a minute before you can scrape the raclette down. If you’re the one in charge of the machine, you’ll hardly have time to join in eating with everyone else.
This is more like piecework: you turn the holder away from the heat, tilt the cheese, scrape it back, cut the burnt edges away and turn the cheese back towards the heat. The height adjustment is admittedly a bit tricky. Because the cheese holder is attached to a long spindle, you need to turn the whole chunk of cheese round a few times. But that wasn’t a big deal. It was just a shame it didn’t come with a special raclette knife. Instead I had to make do with a standard knife for scraping and cutting the edges.
Result: behold the goo
Doesn’t quite cut it: a raclette knife would have been better
In theory, the raclette grill works very well. And even in practice it’s quite easy to scrape off the cheese thanks to the tipping mechanism, but that’s only as long as there’s still enough cheese attached to the holder. Once that molten gold is reaching its end, scraping the cheese becomes a bit of a challenge.
It’s then difficult to get the soft cheese to stay fixed to the vice. In this respect, mini raclette grills are much cleaner. The manufacturer needs to think up some way of holding the cheese so we can get every last bit out.
Side note: this grill isn’t purely for round cheese. You can also use it for raclette blocks – but you’ll notice the same problems as with the half wheels.
Lunarscape: it gets a bit more difficult at the end
Down with individualism – everyone should eat the same
I’ll admit you can only make one type of raclette on this machine rather than ten different, exotic types. But do you really need raclette cheese with dried mango pieces, mushroom shoots harvested from Japanese mountains or raclette with Argentinian hay flower in it? Didn’t think so. This has to stop.
A single type of raclette is enough when it’s done well. And raclette simply tastes better when it is cooked in one of these machines. It forms a better crust, melts more uniformly and is creamier. And it’s not like you even have much more to wash up than if you used the mini grill. Especially in a world where there’s a fondue raclette dishwasher setting. What a time to be alive!
Tuck in: raclette, as God intended it
Is it time to get rid of my mini grill?
Should I just raclette on this machine? It depends if you find yourself hosting a raclette party for less than four people. If that’s the case, it’s not worth buying a bigger raclette grill. If, on the other hand, you’ve got a big family or you have lots of hungry guests to feed, this kind of raclette grill is often a good investment. You’ll make better raclette and save money because cheese is cheaper by piece – win!
Even though I don’t plan on opening up a raclette stand at this year’s Christmas market, I’m still treating myself to this kitchen device. Life is just too short for bad raclette. Besides, who needs all the bells and whistles of the mini table grills?
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