(Swiss melted cheese dish)
Originating in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel, fondue was devised as a winter dish to use up bread and cheese. Fondue means "melted," and it is traditionally served in a heavy pot called a caquelon that is heated over a small burner, or rechaud.
To serve fondue, bits of bread are speared on long, thin forks and dipped in an exquisite cheese sauce. The crusty cheese remants left at the bottom of the pot, called la religieuse, are considered a delicacy.
4 to 6 servings
- Gruyère cheese, grated -- 1/2 pound
- Emmentaler cheese, grated -- 1/2 pound
- Cornstarch or potato starch -- 1 tablespoon
- Garlic -- 1 clove
- Dry white wine -- 1 cup
- Kirschwasser (optional) -- 2 tablespoons
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- Baguette or other crusty bread, cut into 1-inch cubes -- 1 loaf
- In a large bowl, toss the grated cheeses together with the cornstarch. Slice the clove of garlic in half and wipe the inside of the fondue pot with it. Discard the garlic and pour the wine into the pot. Bring the wine to a low boil for 1 to 2 minutes over the heat source.
- Reduce the heat so the wine is at a slow simmer. Then add the grated cheese a handful at a time, stirring constantly, until each addition is completely melted. Stir in the kirschwasser if using and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Keep the fondue barely simmering over low heat in the middle of the table where it will be served. Don't overheat, or the cheese will separate and get oily. If the fondue is too thick, stir in a little more wine. If too thin, stir in a little more grated cheese tossed with cornstarch.
- Set a basketful of the cubed bread on the table. Each diner pierces a piece of bread on his fondue fork and dips it in the cheese. Basic Fondue Etiquette: Use the fondue fork to dip the bread and transport it to your plate. Don't use it for eating. And no double-dipping.
- Fondue Pot: Don't worry if you don't have a fondue pot. You can use a heavy saucepan with a tabletop gas or electric burner.
- Cheese: Different cheeses are popular in different Swiss and French regions. Try to use at least two types of cheese for best flavor. Popular varieties are Gruyere, Emmenthaler, raclette, vacherin, Appenzeller and fontina.
- Wine: Use a nice sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, dry riesling or chenin blanc.
- Fondue with Beer: Use beer instead of wine. Stir in some crushed tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms or thinly sliced truffles.
- Other Dipping Ingredients: Cubed cooked chicken, ham, cooked potatoes, blanched cauliflower, apple slices.
- Fondue Bourguignonne: A fondue variation with cubes of beef cooked in hot oil and then dipped in a selection of sauces.
- Dessert Fondue: A dessert variation with melted dark or white chocolate and a selection of fruit for dipping.