Sunday, November 27, 2005

Cheese Fondue

I remember my mother having a fondue set back in the 70s; I don't actually remember eating fondue, but I'm sure we did. As an adult, I would eat fondue at my Swiss friends' apartment in New York and when I would travel to Switzerland for work (luckily for me, it happened quite often). I haven't had it in a year or so, but for some reason I started thinking about it. It's coming back into vogue here in the States so I must've seen an article somewhere.

But before I could make it, I had to have a pot to make it in. I looked at other food blogs, on the cooking supply web sites and queried my Swiss friends. After some research, I bought a Le Creuset pot. My reasons? I love my Le Creuset cookware; it's never done me wrong. I wanted something that could go from stovetop to burner-top. And I wanted something smaller; it's just my husband and me at home and we don't entertain a lot, so getting a four+ quart fondue pot didn't make much sense.

Next I needed a recipe. I went back to my Swiss friends who supplied me with a recipe and some fondue trivia - whoever loses their bread in the fondue pot has to kiss their table partner, etc. I found a recipe on Epicurious too, the original Gourmet magazine recipe from 1966, plus some helpful hints from the Epicurious readers' comments. I love that feature of the Epicurious site; readers can comment directly to the recipe page (just like a blog), and even better, users can mark which comments they'd like to have printed along with the recipe itself. Very useful. So here's what my recipe ultimately looked like:

1 garlic clove, halved
8 oz Gruyere, grated
8 oz Emmenthaler, grated
1 T cornstarch (maybe a little more)
10 oz dry white wine (not vermouth)
3 oz kirsch
1 t nutmeg
One day-old baguette or other crusty bread, cut into inch cubes. If you only have fresh bread, cut it into cubes, spread the cubes on a cookie sheet and put it in a 200-degree oven to dry out.

Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the garlic halves and leave the garlic in the pot. Grate the cheese, then put it all in a gallon-sized zipper bag along with the cornstarch. Shake it up so the cornstarch is evenly distributed amongst the cheese. Heat the wine in the fondue pot on the stovetop, then add the cheese just before the wine boils. Lower the heat to medium and add the cheese a bit at a time, stirring in a zig-zag motion, not in a circular motion (this apparently keeps the cheese from balling up, a very big fondue faux pas). Once all the cheese is in, keep stirring; the cheese should be bubbling happily along but don't let it get too happy or it will start to burn. Add the kirsch and stir it for another five minutes or so, until it's thick and creamy. Stir in nutmeg.

Light the fondue burner and move the pot from the stove to the fondue stand. Spear a piece of bread with the fondue fork, stick it in the cheese, stir it around, pull it out, eat it. Repeat repeatedly.

This recipe is too much for two (we couldn't eat it all). It might be enough for four if a salad was served ahead of time. Next time, I'll cut the recipe by a third for the two of us.

Some fondue etiquette:
Always stir the cheese when you put your forked bread in the pot; it helps keep the mixture smooth.
Never eat your cheese directly from your fondue fork then stick it back into the cheese - not nice for the other eaters (unless you're all family or friendly enough that no one cares, or unless everyone has had enough wine not to care).
Drink white wine or hot black tea with cheese fondue. One Swiss friend swears you'll go to the hospital if you drink anything else.


Anonymous LisaSD said...

Sounds really good. What's not to like about smoothly melted and enhanced cheese that serves as a dip?!

1:24 PM  
Blogger Valyn said...

You are so right!

1:52 PM  
Blogger Rose-Colored Beer Goggles said...

I've just found your post and already have two things in common w/you. I made a polenta, parmesan and roasted portobello dish for T-day. And I have the most fabu electric fondue pot - great for controlling the temp and eliminating burnt food :o)

1:09 AM  

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