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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cheese Fondue

As we reviewed some pictures of our trips to Central Europe, we enjoyed looking at pictures of the Alps and the surrounding areas.  One of the pictures showed the fondue that we ate in France, and my wife asked when we could have cheese fondue for dinner.  I replied that as soon as I could buy some cheese, I would be happy to make fondue.  Later that day we had to run some errands, so we stopped at Costco (our super mega-mart) to purchase our cheese.

As we walked through the store, there were several stands demonstrating different products and offering samples to taste.  We stopped at one and picked up some Jarlsberg cheese that is a variety of Swiss cheese manufactured in Norway.  It had a very soft texture and a mild and pleasant taste that we enjoyed.

We walked to the refrigerated case to get the two cheeses that I needed: Gruyere and Emmenthaler.  We picked up a small brick of the Gruyere, but there was no Emmenthaler or any other Swiss type cheese.  Ah, the Jarlsberg is a Swiss cheese, so we went back and picked up a wedge of the Jarlsberg.

Here is the recipe that I use for making cheese fondue:
   1 small garlic clove, halved
   1 cup dry white wine
   3/4 pound Gruyere cheese
   3/4 pound Emmenthaler (or Jarlsberg) cheese
   1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
   1 tablespoon kirsch wasser (optional)
   kosher salt
   ground black pepper
   A loaf of crusty bread cut into one-inch cubes
  1. Rub the cut side of the garlic around the bottom and sides of a medium saucepan.  This supplies all the garlic flavoring needed without overpowering the cheese.  Sometimes I will also run the garlic on the inside of the fondue pot.
  2. Remove the skin from the cheese and grate it into a large bowl.  Add the cornstarch to the cheese and toss to mix.
  3. Add the wine to the saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  4. Slowly add the cheese to the simmering wine, stirring each addition until it is melted.  Once all the cheese is added, stir until all the cheese is melted.
  5. Add the kirsh which is a cherry flavored spirit (by itself is pretty nasty tasting) and heat until bubbling which takes one or two minutes.  Season with the salt and pepper
  6. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm while serving.
This recipe is very easy to make and really wows the guests.  Though the first time I made fondue; I used the recipe that came in the box with our ceramic fondue pot.  This should really be categorized as lesson learned, as I exactly followed the recipe.  It said to place the pot on the stove, add wine and heat and add the cheese until it was melted, so I place the fondue pot on the stove and half way through melting the cheese, it made a loud pop and split in two.  My wife informed me that the directions assumed I knew to use a metal saucepan.  Nope!  So now, we have a new fondue pot that I only heat by placing it over the small burner that came with the set.

While it is possible to dip other items into the cheese such as: steamed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, apple, salami, kielbasa, etc, we usually just use bread.  We prefer to just use bread.  We really like to use a very dark bread that has a lot of flavor, but it is very difficult to find.

This recipe will easily serve four people as a main course with some raw vegetables on the side.  A little fondue served with a nice dark beer makes for a great evening between friends.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

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