Friday, January 1, 2010

I Fondue, Can You?

Fondue, born in the kitchens of 18th Century Swiss villagers trying to use stale bread and cheese while conveniently huddled together around a flame to keep warm with the family, has come a long way.  It has now effectively moved past the fondue of the 70s (complete with kitchy fondue bibs and key partys - (the link isn't really worthy of the age restrictions, it's just that The Ice Storm was an R-rated movie)).  The lowly fondue has now helped ring in 2010!  I hereby declare this year the year of melted cheese!

Our New Year's fondue party rocked!  And it was so easy!
Step 1 - grate a combination of cheeses (Cuisinart makes it easy, and saves your knuckles).  We used a combination of Emmentaler, Gruyere and Comte, which is basically a French Gruyere.  These cheeses make for a nice, nutty flavor in the fondue, and melt really well.  Emmentaler is your traditional Swiss cheese, complete with holes.  Gruyere and Comte are a little smoother, with fewer, smaller holes.  They all melt well, and taste great together.  While Emmentaler and Gruyere is the "traditional" combination, this is your chance to be creative.  Add some cheddar for some sharpness, some muenster for earthiness or some blue cheese - hey, why not?
Step 1a - toss the grated cheese with a bit of flour or Arrowroot powder if you have it.  Just enough to coat the cheese.  This helps with the thickening.  This is really easy to do if you have a big Ziploc bag.
Step 2 - rub fondue pot with garlic.  DO NOT SKIP!!
Step 3 - add white wine to the pot; one cup for each pound of cheese you'll be adding.  Heat pot over medium.  Note - if you want to make an alcohol free fondue, you can use milk here instead.  Add a few teaspoons of lemon juice for acidity, and make sure to use nice fatty cheeses - like Gruyere - to make sure the melting process doesn't lead to a burning cheese process.  A little paprika could add a little flavor.
Step 4 - add the cheese a few handfuls at a time, stirring constantly.  As it melts, add more.
Step 5 - at some point in the melting process, add a few tablespoons of Kirsch, a Swiss cherry liqueur.  Danger - this stuff is potent!  Note - if you're really going for broke, give your guests each a little bowl of kirsch to dip their bread into before they put it in the cheese.  Yowza!
Step 6 - when it's all melted, gather round the pot!  The first person to loose their bread cube in the pot

We had lots of day old bread cubes on hand (they hold better on your fork, and love to soak up cheese sauce.  We also had some steamed brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli for dipping to make it "healthy."  OMG.  What a treat.  I had a bit of a cheese hangover this morning - between the wine and kirsch in the sauce and the wine and champagne in my glass it was quite an evening.  But so much fun!

They sell fondue sets pretty much everywhere at this point, so what's stopping you?

BTW - if you ever get tired of cheese (the horror!) don't forget about chocolate fondue!

Check out this website for all sorts of great fondue tips.  Brie with Mushrooms fondue anyone?  Yum!

1 comment:

  1. I've never tried this before, but it sounds like fun!