Fondue

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

As mentioned on Day 79 of The Challenge



Fondue is traditional here, and as old as our dear Alps. There are many different ways of making, from varying the cheeses and number of cheeses, to changing the cooking liquid - wine, cider, beer, water - or adding other ingredients - herbs, saffron, truffles, tomatoes. This is my favourite variant, pretty much the one I learnt from my father. I always make my in a cast iron enamelled caquelon as is traditional here. Always drink something either hot or acidic and non-carbonated -wine, juice, tea, NOT coke or water- with a fondue to avoid a stomach ache. As for what to dip, whatever takes your fancy and goes well with cheese. Traditionally, it tends to be bread, potatoes and pickles, but nowadays anything goes. We tend to also dip apples, charcuterie, tomatoes and onions. I have friends who dip pineapple as well. The choice is yours! Calculate about 150-250g of cheese per person (take into account who you are cooking for and what kind of appetites they have). I usually split the difference and make it about 200g per person. I make my fondue with local Swiss cheeses as much as possible, but when living in the UK I did make some half-way decent fondues with cheddars. The trick really is to balance mature and creamy cheeses to get the right texture and taste. And as with any recipe, taste and tweak as needed to suit your preferences. And for anyone not aware of the rules, it a man drops his dippable in the fondue, he buys the next bottle of wine, if a woman drops hers, she owes each of the men at the table a kiss on the cheek.


Ingredients (for a 3 person fondue):

3 cloves of garlic

200g Gryuère, grated

200g Appenzeller, grated

200g Vacherin Fribourgeois, grated

1 -1 1/2 tbsp corn starch

1 1/2 -2 c white cooking wine (to be adjusted as needed)

a shot of Kirsch

Pepper (lots and lots of pepper)


For dipping (your cubes need to be pretty big, about 2-2.5 cm):

Crusty bread (eg baguette), half a loaf, cubed with a bit of crust on each cube

1 apple, cubed

300-500g of baby potatoes, boiled until al-dente (they need to be cooked, but not fall apart when you stab them)

1 onion, cut into eighths to make large sections for dipping

charcuterie of your choice

pickles


Methylated spirits -(the kind you would take camping) for the flame under the caquelon - sterno gel does not burn hot enough.


1) Using your hands, mix your cheeses and corn starch thoroughly. To a certain extent, how much corn starch to use needs to be gauged by feel. The cheese needs to be coated but not feel gritty. Add a little more if it seems necessary.


2)Using your thumb or the heel of your hand, crush the garlic in the bottom of the caquelon and rub the bottom and sides of the pot all over with it. Most recipes then tell you to discard the garlic, and I suppose that if you are allergic to it that is what you should do, but as a normal human, I recommend leaving it in. The garlic cooking in the cheese magma is beautiful when you happen across it and a real treat!


3) Light your methylated spirits (being careful not to light the table on fire as you do so) and place the caquelon over the flame. Pour about half the wine into the caquelon and allow it to heat gently over the flame. Once it is a little warmed, add the cheese in handfuls, stirring well.


4) Add the kirsch, and pepper generously. Stir with a wooden spoon in a figure of 8, making sure to stir the bottom of the pot as well. As the cheese melts, add the rest of the wine. Make sure not to add too much though as you don't want it swimming. You want just enough for the cheese to melt smoothly.


When it is ready, it is ready NOW. Don't let it sit as it will burn on the bottom. Dip any combination of dippables you want, and enjoy. (Tip: the bread is less likely to fall off the fork if you stab in crust last onto your fork). When all the cheese is gone, scrape up the crispy bit on the bottom, the religieuse, and share it out. It is arguably the best bit!


EDIT: We have recently started dipping lightly steamed broccoli. Not what you might call traditional, but it works!



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