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Many families will be spending time together, at home, during the holidays looking for a way to re-connect and save money. Raclette (modern day fondue) is one way to spend time eating and talking together. It's easy, and the whole family can get involved. Whether you purchase a raclette maker for someone else or as a family gift, the raclette maker is an investment and will last for years.

Raclette is derived from the word, racler, to scrape. The tradition originated in Switzerland, and is practiced from late Fall to the beginning of Spring in France, and now in the US. There are French, Swiss, Michigan, and Wisconsin varieties of raclette cheese. Raclette cheese is available in mainstream grocery stores.

Raclette makers are available at:
Cornerstone Shoppe
214 Broad Street
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
(262) 248-6988
www.cornerstoneshoppe.com

Marion Street Cheese Market
100 S. Marion Street
Oak Park
(708) 725-7200
www.marionstreetcheesemarket.com
(Raclette is on the menu until spring)

Raclette with Cornichons and Pickled Onions

Raclette is prepared with a raclette maker that melts the cheese over an electric burner that usually holds six individual cheese trays and paddles to scrape the cheese from the rind. You put the melted cheese on top of potatoes that have been smashed on your plate, then add the ham, pickles, and onions. You and your family can have fun enjoying this Swiss tradition.

Ingredients:
2 pounds raclette cheese with rind, preferably French
Accompaniments:
1 1/2 pounds new red potatoes, boiled
1 pound Black Forest ham, sliced
one 8-ounce jar cornichons, drained
one 8-ounce jar tiny pickled onions, drained
freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Directions:
Cut the cheese so that it fits into the cheese trays and so that it melts easily, such as 4x2-inch rectangles that are 1/4 inch thick.
Place the sliced cheese on a serving platter along with the ham, cornichons, and onions. The boiled potatoes can be left in a casserole dish with a lid to keep them warm. Put the nutmeg, salt, and pepper in little piles on a separate dessert plate. Use a raclette maker to melt the cheese according to the manufacturer's directions.

Have your guests assemble their plates as follows:
Place some potatoes on the plate, top with melted cheese and smash together.
Add some ham, cornichons, and onions to the plate.
Sprinkle everything with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Enjoy every forkful!
SERVES 6

Cornichon (cor-nih-SHOHN) is the French word for gherkin. These small pickles are crisp and tart, and found in most grocery stores. Cornichons can be served as an accompaniment with raclette, pâtés, and smoked meats.