Fondue, especially cheese fondue, brings to life so many wonderful memories of growing up that it is going to be difficult to capture them all in words. I can say with certainty that as far back as I can think, cheese fondue has always been one of my most favorite meals during the colder days of the year. To prepare for cheese fondue, my mom would usually pack me and my sister up to go shopping at Auchan in Luxembourg. Auchan is a big shopping mall that within itself contains a multi-story grocery- and department store, offering the best of the best of groceries around. At their cheese counter, we would order a variety of delicious Swiss cheeses, such as Emmentaler, Greyerzer (Gruyère), Appenzeller and Bergkäse. We would also make sure to pick up dippers such as prosciutto di Parma, fresh pear, bell pepper, cornichon pickles, baby potatoes and of course, a fresh, crusty loaf of bread (usually a rustic, mixed flour loaf, such as a rye and wheat loaf; I absolutely love Farm to Market’s Country French bread if you’re in the KC area.
After we returned home, my mom would then enter a very stressed mood trying to combine the cheese with beer and Kirschwasser (a schnapps made from cherries) to find the fine balance between a smooth, homogenous cheese that does not separate and is also not too stringy. Well let’s just say it hardly ever worked out as she never really used a recipe to make cheese fondue. (Sometimes we would also sauté some finely chopped onion, little cubes of bacon and garlic to add into the cheese fondue once it was ready to be served.)
When she did succeed, we would celebrate, eat the cheese in high speed mode, scared it’s consistency would return to the usual, super stringy state that we were used to, and then fall into a deep food coma.
FYI (if you haven’t noticed) I love cheese and I will gladly pay the price of having a very rough, digestive nightmare the following day.
Slightly discouraged from her experiences, yet too ambitious to recreate those wonderful memories, I made it my mission to figure out how to make the cheese fondue experience more fool-proof.. and little did I know, someone else already had this figured out for me… and my mom.
My recipe for success (and saving grace) ended up being a very simple Swiss cheese fondue recipe by Tyler Florence from the Food Network (it’s all about proportions!). I adjusted the quantities slightly just because I like my fondue to be more garlic and I didn’t think the nutmeg came through as much as I like it to. 2 bags of shredded cheese ( Trader Joe’s has a wonderful and inexpensive Swiss and Gruyère mixture):
- 1.5 pounds imported Swiss cheese (Gruyère, Emmentaler, or any other Swiss cheese), shredded
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1.5 cups dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon cherry brandy (Kirschwasser)
- 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- Assorted dippers (Rustic bread cut into 1 inch cubes, prosciutto, cornichons, pear, bell pepper, boiled potatoes, …)
In a small bowl, coat the cheeses with cornstarch and set aside. Rub the inside of the ceramic fondue pot with the garlic, then discard. (I use the other 2 cloves, put them through my garlic press, and add them when I add the Kirschwasser.
Over medium heat, add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually stir the cheese into the simmering liquid. Melting the cheese gradually encourages a smooth fondue. Once smooth, stir in cherry brandy, mustard and nutmeg.
Spear with fondue forks, dip, swirl and enjoy!
I recommend accompanying this with a semi-dry Riesling (such as this baby that my fiancé and I picked up on our trip to Germany this past July; it caught my eye because it has my name in it! 😉 Sadly I didn’t make the wine…) or a medium-bodied red wine.
Prost! Be on the look-out for a blog post on Elsässer Flammkuchen coming next week! Delicious!
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