A modern raclette grill usually involves a raised griddle for cooking meats and vegetables with a space underneath designed to accommodate raclette pans. Diners place raclette cheese in these pans, and slide them underneath the grill to broil the cheese. Once broiled, it is scraped out onto plates for service.
Raclette is a Swiss dish similar to a fondue. Instead of completely melting the cheese with wine, however, the cheese is instead broiled and partially melted before being scraped onto diner's plates. The accompaniments are similar to fondue, with meats and vegetables cooked on the grill and combined with the roasted cheese. Potatoes are another traditional accompaniment, sometimes placed in the broiler pans with the cheese in order to roast together. The small portions encourage diners to cook several courses, extending the length of the meal and encouraging conversation.
Raclette cheese is the best cheese to use for this dish, due to its ability to melt into a smooth, yet firm consistency. Gruyere or other cheeses may be substituted, but the final texture may not be the same as a traditional raclette.
In addition to modern raclette makers, there are traditional raclette machines that heat an entire wedge of cheese at once. Accompaniments are cooked elsewhere, and then layers of melted cheese are scraped off to cover the cooked food.