A three course meal of fondue has become the tradition around our home on Christmas Eve. Which just so happens to be my birthday.......we used to go out for dinner, but at some point when the kids were little and going out for dinner with them was not actually relaxing, at all, we started fondue. (Forgive me Sweet Seestor, but if my memory serves me correctly you gave me a fondue pot for my birthday...right?) A fondue pot as a gift and now six years, and 3 additional fondue pots later, we consider ourselves fondue aficionados....humbly speaking of course.
Fondue is not for the hurried eater. It's all about taking your time. One bite at a time. Conversation. Moving around a little. Taking turns. Remembering which fork is yours. Patience. Laughter. Lots of good food, one bite at a time, did I say that already?
I did a little research a couple years back on fondue. A friend and I auctioned off a fondue party for our school, so I thought I'd better know my fondue history. Fondue originated in Switzerland, it was a way for the peasants to use up their odd bits of cheese and day old bread. They would throw the cheese in a pot, pour in some liquor or wine for good measure and dip in their day old bread. Voila! the fondue pot was born. Now we think we are all fancy, when really we are just copying common farmers in Switzerland. Fancy or ordinary, fonduing is a casual, relaxing and super easy to do. You need not be a lover of the kitchen, by any means, to pull off fondue .
Let's start where they started with the cheese. I have tried many a cheese fondue recipe....believe me. This one has come from a few years of tinkering with it. This particular recipe would be considered traditional fondue. A fondue pot made out of stoneware works best for cheese fondue, I've found out the hard way that metal and cheese are not friends. However, the electric fondue pot from Rival, with it's non-stick surface, works fabulous for cheese and chocolate! I use my metal pots for broth and oil....but I will get to that at a later time.
6 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
4-6 ounces Brie cut rind off and cube
4 teaspoons of cornstarch
2 tablespoons Kirsch Liquor (if you can't find it leave it out)
1 1/4 cups dry Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
1 lemon juiced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-2 dashes nutmeg
1 garlic clove peeled and sliced in half
dippers: french baguette cut into cubes, sweet mini gherkins, roasted mini onions, red peppers sliced, sauteed mushrooms, mini fingerling potatoes roasted, granny smith apple slices
Shred Gruyere cheese and prepare brie, toss in a bowl with the cornstarch set aside. (You can actually do this step hours before and put in refrigerator until you are ready to melt the cheese.)
Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the garlic clove. Light burning element under fondue pot. Add juice of one lemon, and half of the wine, gradually add cheese, stirring continually with wooden spoon or rubber spatula. As cheese starts to melt continue to add the remainder of wine and cheese. Don't loose heart it will seem like a large lump of cheese that you can't dip anything into for a little bit. Keep stirring. When cheese gets bubbly add in the pepper, dash or two of nutmeg and tablespoon of Kirsch liquor if you have it. Continue to stir until smooth. This process may take 15-25 minutes.
Remember fondue is not for the hurried eater, relax, pour your guest a glass of wine and take turns stirring your cheese fondue.
I gave you suggestions above for dipping, these are things we have found to be our favorites over the years. Feel free to have fun and add your own favorites.
Here are two other flavors of fondue that we have tried at our party's and found to be quite tasty: Blue Cheese Fondue with Rosemary Toasts, this fondue is to die for, if you are a lover of blue cheese like myself...you will be dipping everything you can get your hands on in it. One word YUMMY! Unfortunately no one else in my family loves blue cheese like I do, so we rarely do this one.
Irish Cheddar Stout Fondue is another we have tried and found to be quite tasty. Like my mam always said, "Beer and Cheese does the body good!" Well not really but, she shoulda said it. This mama says it.
I hope if you have a fondue pot you haul that baby out, dust it off and give it a try. New Years Eve is coming up ya know. What better way to reminisce over the past year than by hanging out around a pot of cheese fondue!