Fondue 101

Cook, Dinner Parties, Entertain, How-To, Learn, Tips & Techniques

fondueThere’s nothing more inviting than a pot of warm cheese fondue. Paired with a simple green salad and a glass of crisp white wine, it’s a perfect meal for entertaining. Here, find our tips for making creamy, luscious fondue at home.

 

Cheese

Mountain cheeses, like Gruyere and Emmentaler, are most often used in traditional cheese fondue because of their strong flavors and creamy textures (both melt very well). We recommend using a combination of cheeses in your fondue; this will make the flavor more complex or interesting. Other hard cheeses to combine include Appenzeller, Comte, Vacherin Fribourgeois, Farmhouse or English-style cheddar, Fontina, Cantal, and Raclette. If you want to experiment with different cheeses, try a mild blue or a triple creme in place of one of the mountain cheeses.

 

Technique

In order for the cheeses to melt and have their creamy consistency, they should be added bit by bit to the wine in the pot and be stirred or whisked regularly to avoid clumping. Use low heat so the cheese melts slowly; high heat will cause the fat and protein to separate and the cheese to clump. If your fondue should separate, add a bit more wine or kirsch and whisk quickly to incorporate.

 

Serving
Fresh baguettes, cut into cubes, are a classic choice for dunking, but artisanal whole-grain, nut, or herb breads are also delicious. Begin the meal with a platter of charcuterie (prosciutto or other cured meats) and then a big green salad; serve the fondue with crisp whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinto Grigio, or Gewurztraminer. For red, try Brunello, Pinot Noir, or Burgundy.

 

Classic Cheese Fondue

2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml.) dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc

1 3/4 lb. (875 g.) Gruyere cheese, shredded

3/4 lb. (375 g.) Emmentaler cheese, shredded

2 Tbs. kirsch

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

1 1/2 day-old baguettes or equivalent amount of artisanal nut, herb or whole-grain bread, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm.) cubes

 

If using a ceramic fondue pot, set the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) and put the fondue pot in the oven to warm. If using a metal fondue pot, skip this step. Fill the burner of the fondue pot with denatured alcohol.

 

Crush the garlic with a garlic press or grate with a grater and put into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or directly into the metal fondue pot. Add the wine and place the pan over high heat. As soon as bubbles form around the edges, after about 2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cheeses, a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts completely into a smooth, creamy mass. Stir in the kirsch, nutmeg and pepper.

 

To serve, light the burner of the fondue pot and place it on the table. Pour the hot fondue from the saucepan into the warmed ceramic pot, or transfer the metal fondue pot directly to the burner. Set out fondue forks and pass the bread cubes. Serves 4 to 6.

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