How to Make Cheese Fondue
Boozed-laced melted cheese. It's what's for dinner.
by Erin Henderson
You have to admire a culture that will drop a flaming pot of cheese on the centre of the dining room table, give everyone a spear-like fork, and call it a dinner party.
While fondue is now, officially, Switzerland's national dish (The Swiss Cheese Union declared it so in the 1930's), the gooey, melted cheese wasn't always so esteemed.
Like the folklore that swirls around many historical dishes, fondue's past has as many holes as the cheese that makes it. There are mentinons of fondue in Homer's Iliad, and a recipe for a mixture of cheese and wine is included in the 17th century Swiss cookbook Kochbuch der Anna Margaretha Gessner. And, of course, there are tales of mountain-dwelling peasants making use of old bread and cheese during the harsh winter months.
Regardless of how fondue came to be, I'm delighted it's here now. I serve it a few times a year, and get a particular craving when when snowstorms blow into town, as it seems most apropos to light some candles and gather 'round the fondue pot for warmth, sustenance and a bit of joy.
There are many interpretations on how to best make a fondue, but this is my recipe.
Classic pairings for fondue are white wines located from the Alps, such as crisp Chasselas, Auxerrois, or Pinot Blanc. However, these grapes are a bit unconventional, and finding good quality outside of certain regions within Switzerland, France or Germany may prove challenging.
I appeared on CTV's Your Morning to talk about great wine pairings for fondue and showed how a Petite Chablis, with its mouth-watering acid and green apple flavours, worked beautifully to cut through the rich cheese. Similarly, Lambrusco, the deeply hued, sparkling red wine out of Emilia-Romagna in Italy, was also a delicious pairing. The ripe berry notes contrasted the salty bite of the cheese, while the bubbly effervescense of the wine kept the palate fresh.
Chef level: moderate
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 Tbsp grainy mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 250 g Emmental cheese, grated
- 250 g Gruyère cheese, grated
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- ¼ cup cognac
- Nutmeg, optional, to taste
- Dippers: apple, pear, bread, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, potatoes, pretzels, etc.
- In a large Dutch oven over low heat warm the wine, with the garlic and the mustard.
- In handfuls, add the cheese, stirring in zig-zag motions to combine.
- (Keep your patience, it will come together, do not raise the heat to make it go faster.)
- Season lightly with S+P.
- Once it has started to loosely form and most of the wine has been absorbed, mix the cognac into the cornstarch to form a slurry and pour into the cheese.
- Stir in zig zag motions to incorporate and thicken, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add in the nutmeg, if using, stir quickly to combine, and pour into a warmed fondue pot set over a low flame.
- Serve with dippers of choice.