This is the last in my series of dairy-rich recipes.
FONDUE…that one word causes quite a stir when you include it in the context of a dinner invitation. Here is a much sought-after recipe from family and friends for a delicious cheese fondue. And you know what? With just 5 ingredients and one basic cutting skill, you can make fondue like a pro!
(Note: I received a cheese subscription from Dairy Max as part of their Quarantine Cooking Project. However the recipes and ideas here are my own!)
While the exact origin of cheese fondue is as hazy as a snowy night, it’s thought to have originated somewhere along the Swiss-French alps, where it is still popular, as is Raclette. If you like cheese, but want something a little different, Raclette is another melted cheese dining experience in which the cheese is eaten with cooked potatoes and ham. Besides making a fondue as part of a Cultural Foods class in college, my first “authentic “fondue” was in Switzerland on a blustery night many years ago.
In our family, we have at least one fondue a year, usually in December or January. Somehow, listening to the howling wind makes the fondue taste better! The most people we’ve entertained with a fondue is 14 and let me tell you, THAT was an experience!Mention #fondue in a #dinner invitation, and you'll have friends lined up to attend! Find out how to make it here! #Ad #QuarantineKitchen #DairyAmazing #calciumrich #RDchat #cheesy Click To Tweet
It’s always fun to see how high you can stretch the cheese!
Of course, you could visit a Fondue restaurant and pay a lot more, but it’s much more fun to do it at home…and I promise you it will be a dinner that you and your friends will remember for a long time!
Start hunting down your cheese the week before. You probably won’t find some of the cheeses at your local Walmart, so start with Wegman’s, City Market or Whole Foods if you have one close by. And a warning, the best aged cheese for a fondue is not cheap, but worth it!
Also be on the lookout for some good crusty bread–it can be white or whole wheat. You’ll want to buy it the day before; it’s better if it’s a bit stale so that it soaks up all that cheesy goodness! Our favorite bakery closed for a while during the pandemic and we began making our own No Knead bread, made famous by the New York Times. It works like a charm with fondue, but probably better if you make it into two baguettes rather than one round loaf. You need the crust of the bread, better to grab it with your fondue fork.
Consider other dippers besides bread to avoid having a two food group meal, which of course is considered heresy to a dietitian’s idea of a balanced meal! We always serve our fondue with a large green salad on the side. Here are ideas for some veggie dippers!
- Mushrooms of your choice with stems removed
- Steamed broccoli or asparagus spears
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Steamed tiny potatoes or chunks of potatoes
- Chunks of steamed butternut squash
- Large chunks of steamed carrots or baby carrots
The most tedious thing to do with a fondue is cutting the cheese (pardon the pun), which is not that bad if you are only prepping a pound and a half of cheese, but when it gets to be 5 pounds, enlist a few helpers! Your hand will thank you if you grate the cheese in a food processor instead.
You’ll also need some drinkable dry white wine, some garlic and Kirsch. Kirsch is a brandy made from sour cherries. (Note that Kirsch is not a smooth drinking brandy, at least the brand we buy for cooking is not!)
You’ll of course need something to serve the fondue in that keeps it warm–either a fondue pot or crock pot. We’ve found it a bit difficult to find the Sterno gel at stores–so keep a supply on hand. Once you see how easy doing a fondue is, you’ll want to have them regularly!
Get ready to create a stir! Here is the recipe!
Serves 4-6 people, depending on side dishes served and if your guests are big on cheese!
- 1 pound each Comte, Gruyere and Emmental (also called Emmentaler) cheese, the more aged the better, grated or cut into half inch (or less) cubes..
- 3-5 garlic cloves, chopped or put through a garlic press (we used 4 large ones for this recipe but not everyone is so fond of garlic…most recipes call for rubbing 2 garlic clove halves around the pot and discarding.)
- 1 cup dry white wine–Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc work well
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons Kirsch–also called Kirschwasser
- Put all the cheese in a saucepan on medium-low heat.
- Add the garlic and white wine and stir gently while cheese slowly melts.
- In a small glass or bowl, mix the flour with the Kirsch until blended.
- Now it’s time to get your fondue pot ready. Put hot water into your fondue and warm it up on the stovetop. Since fondue pots are generally ceramic of coated metal, they hold the heat AND cold. The last thing you want to do is pour melted cheese into a cold pot! If you’re using an electric pot or crock pot, preheat.
- When much of the cheese is melted, stir in the Kirsch-flour mixture. Keep stirring until all the cheese is melted. It’s then ready to serve IMMEDIATELY! If cook it too much, the cheese will start separating.
Voila! It’s Fondue Time
You will wow your guests and please their palate with your fondue. Serve fresh fruit or sorbet for dessert!
Let’s Not Forget the Nutrition!
Not only will your fondue provide an interactive and fun meal, it also provides excellent nutrition!
- Cheese is rich in bone-building calcium, which your friends are probably lacking! Consider serving it with a spinach salad, which will help boost bones even more because of its vitamin K.
- Swiss cheeses are lower in fat and sodium than most hard cheeses–(though it is by now means “low-fat”).
- Even your lactose-intolerant friends should be able to enjoy it.
- Swiss cheese contains bioactive substances formed during fermentation that have been shown to have blood-pressure lowering effects. A lot more research is needed, but a few abstracts on the topic are available here and here. Perhaps this is part of the “French Paradox.”
During the pandemic, please only make fondue for your immediate family or those in your “bubble.” And if you are pregnant or trying to be, stick with Raclette or just have a few bites of fondue as it does contain alcohol.