Cheese Fondue is a winter treat in our house because 1) cheese is always a treat and 2) my husband studied in Switzerland for his post-doc and it's fun to share that experience and all of the funny traditions that go along with it with the kids. I will happily shred cheese on a cold or rainy day in order to keep up traditions! Fondue doesn't take a ton of ingredients or much skill, but you have to stir, stir, stir to get everything incorporated and having quality cheeses to start ensures a tasty experience.
There are many ways to make fondue, from the variety of cheeses that you use to the ratios of each cheese in your blend. Gruyere cheese is a must, in my opinion, but adding other cheeses balances flavors as well as improves the texture and the way the cheese melts together. Even with a great cheese store in our area we can't get the blend of cheeses that my husband enjoyed in Switzerland, so I've come to this blend over time with a little bit of experimentation. Gruyere cheese (on the far right, below) offers up the strongest flavor, Emmentaler (center) adds body and cheese pull magic, and Fontina (left) is an excellent melting cheese so keeps the fondue smooth and creamy.
Fondue can simply be served with plenty of crusty bread (that's how we prefer it), ir you can make a larger spread of boiled baby potatoes, gherkins, hard salami, and even apples for dipping. A glass of dry white wine is an excellent thing to have on hand, and you'll have just the right amount left over after preparing the fondue to share.
Start by shredding your cheeses on the large holes of a box grater. If you have a food processor with a shredding blade, this is a great time to pull it out. Once they are shredded, toss them together so that the cheeses are well blended.
Now, for preparing the fondue pot. We have an enameled cast iron pot that can go right on the stove top, but you can prepare the fondue in a regular sauce pan and transfer to an electric pot for serving once it is prepared. Slice the clove of garlic in half the long way and rub the cut sides all over the pot. Then toss those garlic cloves right in the pot along with the cornstarch and wine. They'll cook along with the cheese!
Whisk the cornstarch and wine together and turn the heat on to medium. Whisk while the wine is heating up and when you see small bubbles form on the side of the pot, it's time to add the cheese! Add a small handful at a time, and whisk away. You just keep adding the cheese slowly until it is all incorporated. I usually switch to a wooden spoon halfway through and then use the whisk again at the end for a final stir before bringing the fondue to the table.
Once the cheese is all blended in and melted, you'll want to bring the mixture to a good bubble before taking it off of the heat to make sure the cornstarch has a chance to thicken the mixture properly. Keep stirring! Remove the pot from the heat and transfer to the table heater (we have a little stand that holds a Sterno can), electric fondue pot, or even a heavy bowl if you don't have a fondue pot. If you are using a bowl, I'd suggest pre-heating the bowl with hot water, drying it out, and then adding the cheese to help keep the fondue warm for as long as posssible.
Grab your fondue forks and dig in! There are many little "rules" and traditions that go along with fondue. If your bread falls off of your fork and into the fondue pot, you have to kiss someone at the table before retrieving it! If you get the now softened garlic on your fork, you are one of the lucky ones. Once the fondue is all gone, you are left with a layer of cheese that has cooked on to the bottom of the pot. Real fondue fans fight over this crispy golden cheese and work to peel it off the bottom of the pot for a treat. One last thing that you can enjoy is a small glass of kirschwasser, a potent cherry brandy, to dip a corner of your bread in before you put it in the fondue. As you can tell, fondue is as much an experience as it is a meal. I hope you give it a try and enjoy it with family and close friends!
- fondue pot
- 8 oz. Gruyere
- 6 oz. Emmental
- 4 oz. Comte or Fontina
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1½ tsp. cornstarch
- 1 garlic clove, sliced in half lenghthwise
- crusty bread, boiled waxy potatoes, apple chunks, salami cubes, or gherkins for dipping
- Shred the cheeses on a box grater or with a food processor. Toss the cheeses together in a medium bowl.
- Rub the inside of the fondue pot or heavy saucepan with the cut sides of the garlic. Add the garlic, wine, and cornstarch to the pot and heat the mixture over medium heat. Whisk to combine the cornstarch and the wine.
- Once you see tiny bubbles start to form on the edges of the wine, add in a small handful of the cheese and whisk until smooth.
- Continue adding in the cheeses, a handful at a time, until all of the cheese is incorporated.
- Place the fondue pot over the small heat source or transfer the fondue to a bowl for serving.
- Serve with potatoes, bread, gherkins, salami, or apples as desired.
Nutrition facts are sometimes provided below and are calculated using an online calculator. With specific brands of ingredients and additions, omissions, or substitutions the nutrition facts may change. We encourage you to use your own nutrition facts caculator to obtain the most accurate nutrition facts for your meal.
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