Classic Cheese Fondue

Classic Cheese FondueDownhill Racer

When I was in grade school, we always got a week off in February. The school called it Presidents Week but we called it what it really was, Ski Week.

The concept of Ski Week brings to mind a lovely European scene complete with tall snow covered mountains, quaint Alpine lodge, mulled wine, schnitzel, cheese fondue and the always faithful St. Bernard. Reality is quite different.

I had the opportunity to ski a lot as a kid, and I have no idea how my mother did it. It’s one thing if you are an adult who presumably can manage to haul your gear and get yourself on the mountain. It is a very different (read: painful) thing entirely when you are dragging your children up the mountain, But Mom did it, often, and it was awesome. I have been semi-successful at getting my kids to ski. The biggest obstacle, of course, has been the lack of snow. This year was better, but our one outing was not that enjoyable do to blizzard-like conditions. Who knows when we’ll go back…

The best I can do is recreate that blissful scene from the Alps. As hard as it is to get in the mood with this unseasonably warm weather, it’s harder to pass up the opportunity for melted cheese.

Classic Cheese Fondue
Fondue possibilities are endless, and you can get pretty creative, so mix your cheeses and dippers. Try a gorgonzola fondue with cut up pears—the bomb!

Although it is great to have a traditional fondue pot, don’t let that stop you! What you need is a pot with a source of heat underneath so the fondue stays melted. You can even use a cast iron pot with sterno or a tea light underneath.

1 clove garlic peeled and halved crosswise
1 pound shredded cheeses: like half Emmentaller and half Gruyere
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon brandy, or kirsch
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 crusty baguette cut into one-inch cubes
Assorted vegetables, pickles, and fruits cut into one-inch cubes such as blanched broccoli, baby carrots, cauliflower, and asparagus, cornichons, pearl onions, granny smith apples, and pears

Rub the inside of the ceramic fondue pot with the garlic, then discard the clove.

Whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl until cornstarch dissolves. Mix the grated cheeses into a medium sized bowl, then stir the lemon and cornstarch mixture into the grated cheeses.

Pour the white wine wine into a pot, and place over medium-low heat. When liquid starts to bubble, start adding cheeses slowly, by the handful, stirring in between each handful until the mixture is melted and smooth. Gradually melting the cheese will ensure a smooth fondue. Once everything is incorporated, stir in the brandy, mustard, and nutmeg.

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.

Pour into a fondue pot, arrange the cut bread, vegetables, and fruit, and serve with skewers.

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