Wonderfully satisfying in the chilly autumn months, fondue is the ideal meal to warm you and yours as the leaves begin to take on vibrant shades of red, orange, and purple. Originating in the small towns and villages of provincial France, this delectable delight is served in a communal pot (caquelon) over a portable stove (réchaud). True to its French origin, the word fondue is the past tense of the French verb fondre, which means to melt.
1 garlic clove, halved longwise
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
(Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
2 1/2 tbsp kirsch
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups Emmenthal cheese, grated
2 cups Gruyere, grated
a fondue pot
1 loaf French bread, cut into one-inch cubes
Other items of your choice, such as apples, roasted potatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers
Fondue gained popularity in the United States throughout the 1950s in response to Julia Child’s celebrated publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and its resounding support for an American food revolution.
Here is a classic recipe that will be sure to please:
Rub the inside of a large stock pot with cut sides of garlic. Begin by bringing the wine to a light simmer over medium heat. Briskly mix together the cornstarch (to prevent curdling) and kirsch in a separate cup. Now it’s time to add the cheese to the simmering wine, and it is essential that the shredded cheese is incorporated gradually, one handful at a time, making sure that the mixture does not boil.
Mix in a zigzag pattern to allow the mixture to maintain creaminess. This process will take a little bit of time, but your patience will be rewarded with silky smooth, delicious fondue without any lumps or burnt cheese. Finish your delectable concoction by briskly mixing your cornstarch mixture again and stirring it into fondue. Bring your cheese fondue to a gentle simmer, and rapidly stir until properly thickened. Finish by transferring to a fondue pot over a pre-lit flame. A cheese fondue should be kept warm enough to maintain a smooth texture but not so hot that it burns and scorches the cheese on the bottom of the pot that could throw off the flavor of the entire dish. The dipping possibilities are endless, but just be careful not to drop your dipping ingredients into the pot while diving in because in my hilariously superstitious and quirky family, that means kisses all around the table.
As your fondue dinner comes to an end, be sure to enjoy in the superbly delicious delicacy that is the thin crust of toasted (not burnt) cheese at the bottom of the pot which the French call la religieuse (the nun). After maintaining a consistent temperature until the fondue is done, simply lower the flame and allow the remaining cheese coating the pot to turn into a golden brown crust. This crunchy fondue cracker can be broken into pieces and shared for a post-fondue treat.
The wonderful thing about fondue is that there aren’t many hard and fast rules.
When it comes to cheese options, Rick from Cheese Louise in Kingston recommends anything from a mild entry level Austrian gruyere to a full-flavored, cave-aged Swiss gruyere, depending on your preference for depth and complexity. So, go ahead and experiment with proportions and flavors to make a dish that’s uniquely yours. Pair this scrumptious classic with an ice-cold bottle of apple cider or a crisp white local wine.
Perfect for a family get together or a romantic dinner for two, there’s truly nothing better than sharing a bubbling pot of melted cheese with loved ones.