Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to Make Fondue

What do you picture when you think of cheese fondue? My sister used to imagine it was like a bowl of warmed-up Velveeta: slightly orangey in color, a bit bland, and with the same consistency throughout. Then I made a fondue on Christmas Day the way I learned to make it in Paris, using Swiss cheeses, white wine, and a hint of seasoning, which resulted in a thick/liquidy dish with a taste unlike anything her American tongue had experienced before. After exclaiming, "so that's what fondue is supposed to be like!" she helped me polish off the dish in rather short order.

It's not a complicated recipe, and you don't need a refined technique or a special fondue-heating contraption to succeed in making the most delicious fondue you've ever tasted. Just follow these steps:

1. Start with the right ingredients. You need equal parts Appenzeller and Gruyère cheese, white wine (preferably from Switzerland or the Savoie region of France), a teaspoon of chopped garlic, and freshly ground nutmeg to taste. Cut the cheese into small cubes.

2. Heat the garlic and a splash of wine in a deep pot. Ideally you would use a cast iron pot, such as one from Le Creuset, but if you're like me and only have stainless steel pots from Ikea, don't worry. It works fine.

3. Once the wine is simmering, but not boiling, add half of the cheese with a portion of wine. I used 400 grams of cheese in total, so with 200 grams of cheese I added a half a cup of wine. Stir the wine and cheese mixture until the cheese is melted, then add the second portion of cheese plus more wine and stir. Patience is key.

4. Grate fresh nutmeg into the mix until you reach the desired amount for your taste. My feeling is that there's no such thing as too much nutmeg in cheese fondue.

5. Keep stirring and don't remove from the heat the entire time you're eating the fondue. The consistency will be thick, but with some of the wine remaining separate from the cheese providing a sort of liquid bath. You want the mixture to be hot but not burning at the bottom of the pan. Play with the heat and you'll find the right temperature for your pot and stove.

6. Enjoy with cubes of good French bread, roasted potatoes, or steak. We used all three. Oh, and don't forget to drink the rest of the wine while eating your fondue!


Fida said...

Ha, what a coincidence. I wrote about my cheese addiction in my last blog, but didn't reveal my recipe. The secret for a truly delicious and smooth fondue is Vacherin (equal parts)

I wish you a travelicious 2010!

Mary Ann Grisham said...

So delicious, I was just thinking of making fondue for New Years! I'll have to try your recipe! Cheers to you, and all blessings in 2010!
Mary Ann G.

Tanya said...

@Fida, I'll have to try making fondue with Vacherin, thanks for telling me about it. Happy 2010!

@Mary Ann, We'll both be making fondue for NYE - I liked the Christmas one so much I have to do it again. Plus, you can only really eat such a heavy meal in the winter. Must get my fill before spring. Looking forward to seeing you in Paris in 2010!

Zhu said...

Technically, if you use ham or potatoes to pick up the cheese, it's a raclette. My French friends treated me to one last week!

I loved fondue... yes, it's fatty, stuffy and whatever, but oh so good!

Tanya said...

@Zhu, I've been wanting to buy a raclette cooking machine for the longest time. A very fun meal/activity to enjoy with friends.

Sara said...

Yum! We love making fondue. It is such a great meal for an intimate dinner party - a great conversation piece. Of course, my favorite is dessert fondue. Chocolate and fruit...what could be better!