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Let us say it again we adore participation dinners! The dinner where everyone gets to cook, or at least put the finishing touches on their dinner while at the table. Our friend Lisa Reichenbach gives us a perfect example of what fun this can be.

In the first Heidi books by Johanna Spyri, Heidi’s grandfather puts a large wheel of Raclette cheese in front of the fire, and as it starts to melt he scoops off a slice and slips it onto potatoes roasted in their jackets. What a perfectly simple dinner.

The Raclette appliance Lisa talks about is fabulous and if you are going to make this often it might be worth the investment. However you can also forgo the machinery, and pretend your oven is really a roaring fire burning in a cabin high in the Swiss alps.

You need:

Raclette cheese, (or another flavorful melting cheese like gruyere, fontina or cheddar) about 3 ounces per person
Potatoes (one large or two small-medium per person), boiled or roasted in their skins, then thickly sliced
Tiny tart pickles
Pickled onions and or olives
Cured meat like Prosciutto
Perhaps some vegetables, like cooked Brussels sprouts, caramelized red onions mushrooms, peppers, roasted garlic and sliced tomatoes
A nice mustard
Some good bread and butter
An herbaceous green salad with a tart vinaigrette

To Make:

Lay out your your accouterments on plates and platters on the table.

Give everyone a small ovenproof dish or ramekin. The potato and pickle topped with cheese are the heart of this dish… anything else is just up to your fancy.

When your masterpieces are done put the dishes on a sheet pan and pop into the oven. Chat, tell a good story, and when the cheese is hot and melty about 5-10 minutes later, pull them out and eat straight off the plate, but be careful it is hot! Sit back, sigh, then do it again.


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