I floated a vague suggestion to make raclette, and before I knew it, my cheese-addicted husband had whisked me into the car and straight to Bed Bath and Beyond, where he attempted to fork over $120 for a raclette machine before I could come to my senses. Unfortunately, they didn't have one in stock. And it was 6 p.m. on a Sunday, which meant any place that would carry such a thing was now closed. But I don't let a little thing like lack of gadgetry stand in the way of my food cravings. We grabbed all the necessary ingredients and headed back home to rig up some ghetto raclette.
The $120 machine, as far as I can tell, consists of some metal cheese melting pans and a grill for accompanying vegetables. So I grabbed two tiny cast iron pans and my grill pan. It must be said that I could not find a single web result that told me how to make raclette without the machine, and yet, this was so very, very easy. In fact, it hardly even merits a recipe. Boil some potatoes. Grill your vegetables of choice (I used red pepper, asparagus, and fennel). Lay out some cold, cured meats. You absolutely must have cornichons. Their sharp, sour bite cuts some of the heart-stopping fattiness of the cheese-smothered potatoes.
Note: the pans looked completely trashed when we were finished, but after a few hours of soaking, and a fairly brief wash-up, they were as good as new.