Swiss Winter Dishes—Fondue


Last week we covered how to make a great, crunchy, French-style baguette.  Now, if only we had something to do with all that bread.

Hey, I know!  Let’s make Fondue!

We’ve already discussed that other great Swiss Winter comfort food Raclette, but it’s traditional cheese fondue with which Switzerland is more commonly associated.  Tthe really great thing is that it’s so easy to make.  And, like Raclette, it’s a great dinner party dish as it’s served piping hot at the table.

You’ll need for four people:

Garlic.  Lots of garlic.

700 grams (a little over a pound and a half) of true, imported Swiss Emmentaler (the Swiss cheese with the holes in it) and Gruyère (an even yummier Swiss cheese without holes).  Go heavier on the Gruyère than on the Emmentaler.  A 400gr/300gr (14oz/10.5 oz) would be a good start.

Seven tenths of a liter (basically one deciliter for every 100 grams of cheese—plus or minus depending on how thin you want your fondue) of good, dry wine such as Johannisberg Riesling or, better still, Pinot Grigio (Italy’s Cavit makes an affordable, consistently good one that’s readily available just about anywhere).  The traditional wine is Fendant, but you probably won’t find it.

One large spoonful of corn starch.

A quarter cup of good Swiss, German, or Austrian Kirschwasser (commonly called “Kirsch,” a dry cherry-based brandy—don’t get the sweet domestic stuff).

Nutmeg and white pepper to taste

Optionally, a half teaspoon of lemon juice.

From here on I’ll forgo the prose and let the pictures talk you through it:

A few of our ingredients

You can't be too thin, too rich, or have too much garlic

Coarsly chop the garlic—very coarsely

Vigorously rub the garlic all around the inside of the fondue pan

Add the wine and bring to a boil—lemon juice comes in now if you're using it

While you're waiting for the wine to boil, cut the baguettes lengthwise . . .

. . . then into bite-sized pieces

Dissolve corn starch into Kirsch

Slowly add small handfuls of the grated cheese, melting thoroughly between handfuls

Keep adding and melting, stirring constantly

After the cheese is nicely melted, stir in the corn starch and Kirsch mixture—blend thoroughly and continue cooking for two minutes

Place on the table over a burner and season with white pepper and nutmeg to taste

Guests take turns stirring with speared bread (and then greedily devouring)—don't let the bottom scorch!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Swiss Winter Dishes—Fondue

  1. I’m told that the ever-so-slightly scorched cheese at the bottom of the pan is quite the delicacy. Of course, you have to have enough people eating your fondue that you get to the bottom before too much scorching happens.

  2. This is quite true. The trick is to make sure it doesn’t scorch too much. We’ve replaced our old fired clay fondue pot with an enameled metal one, and that seems to spread the heat much more effectively. Since making the switch, that scorched piece comes out so much better!

  3. And tastes even better than it looks. One of my all-time favorite dishes, and Ursula certainly makes it to world-class standards.