Monday, March 15, 2010

Fondue Recipe

Before I forget, I know I promised to give y’all my fondue recipe.  Every canton in Switzerland uses a different combination of cheeses but this is the pairing that I think most Americans will be able to find the ingredients for most readily:

Cheese Fondue:  (Warning, this has alcohol in it.  Non-alcoholic options are included.)

Rub the inside of your fondue pot with a peeled clove of garlic.  If you like garlic, just leave the whole thing in the pot.  If you don’t like a lot of garlic, chunk it.

Turn your burner (hob, for the Brits) onto medium low.  Put 2 cups of grated Gruyere cheese and 2 cups of grated Emmentaler  in the fondue pot (which is really called a “caquelon” pronounced kah-kuh-lah).  Add white wine (just omit wine if you are skipping the alcohol and add the juice of one lemon instead), sea salt and white pepper while melting and stirring.  When it is all melted, remove from heat.

Here is the only hard part:  testing the consistency.  Take a chunk of crusty bread and stab it onto a fondue fork.  Swirl it around in the fondue.  If it drips when you lift it up, it is too runny.  If it is the consistency of wallpaper paste or joint compound, it is too thick.  It is supposed to coat the bread with a thin coat while you are swirling but without dripping when you lift it out of the pot and over to your plate.

If it is too thick, add Kirsch (or half-and-half if you are preparing without alcohol).  If it is too runny, (most of the time), mix a slurry in a little bowl of Kirsch and corn starch (water and corn starch if no alcohol), put the caquelon back on the stove over low heat and add the slurry, mixing all the while, teaspoon by teaspoon until it is the right consistency.

Seasonings and Additions:  I like a pinch of nutmeg in ours.  Others put smoked paprika in it.  You can add sliced mushrooms to it or sliced hot peppers, like jalapenos.   If you see it on a menu at a restaurant “avec tomate”, that doesn’t mean with diced tomatoes, it means with tomato paste!

Put the caquelon on the fondue stand over the Sterno and bring it to the table.  Give everyone their own individual plate.  Pass the bread basket which has been filled with chunks of crusty bread.

Typical Sides:  Boiled fingerling potatoes are passed separately.  Take a few and mush them with the tines of your fork onto your plate and spoon a big glop of the fondue sauce over the top.  It’s delish, I promise!  Always pass a small bowl of pearl onions and a bowl of cornichons, (these come right out of a jar), as condiments.  They really cut the “assiness” of the cheese.  Also, pass a plate of sliced, dried meats from a deli, like prosciutto and salami, which mimic the “viandee seche” (dried meat) assortment available here.

Wine:  We would serve a Swiss white or dry rose with this dinner.  But since Switzerland doesn’t export their wine, I would go with a Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio.

Important!  Fondue Etiquette:  It is customary that everyone swirl their bread cubes all around the BOTTOM of the caquelon which keeps the fondue stirred during the meal.  Sometimes this results in the diner’s bread falling off their fondue fork.  If someone drops their bread into the pot and has to go fish it out, they must KISS THE PERSON ON THEIR RIGHT.  No exceptions.

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