It’s a great time of year for fondue.
At the Better Cheddar we recently made a pot of this melty goodness for KCTV 5’s “Better Kansas City.” It was National Cheese Lovers Day on Jan. 20 and what better way to celebrate than by melting cheese, adding wine and dipping stuff in it.
Whenever I suggest fondue to customers, they seem to react as if it is hard to make. But it’s really not hard; moreover, it’s pretty hard to mess up. You just need the right cheese and a good recipe.
I like doing more traditional fondue, so I usually stick to Swiss or French mountain cheeses. That is not to say that you can’t do other cheeses. One of my favorites is a fondue using smoked Gouda, cheddar and a hard cider. But for tradition’s sake, I am sticking to the classics here.
In the recipe below I use three Swiss cheeses: Alpage Gruyere, Emmental and Vacherin Fribourgeois. The Gruyere is aged about a year, as is the Emmental. Despite what some say, you do not need to use young cheeses for fondue. These aged cheeses melt well.
The Gruyere brings a nice meaty and brothy flavor, and the Emmental brings the nuttiness. The Emmental also lends itself to stretching when it is melted, giving you a little tail of cheese to twist around your fork when you dip into the fondue.
I use the Vacherin Fribourgeois to bring a little bit more silkiness to the finished dish. The one I use is about 6 months younger than the Gruyere and Emmental. Being younger helps with a really smooth melt. It brings a little funkiness to the dish as well. But don’t worry; it’s not too funky.
You could also use any or all of these cheeses for a classic Swiss fondue: Swiss Tilsiter, Hoch Ybrig, Scharfe Maxx, Appenzeller, Raclette, French Comte, Beaufort or Abondance.
The wine is important as well. If you want to stick to a classic recipe you would use a young Fendant. This is a Swiss white wine made from the Chasselas grape. It is light, crisp and hard to find in the States.
So your next best bet is another dry, light and crisp white wine. Go for something that is un-oaked. In the video below we used Primaterra Pinot Grigio.
There is one more important thing to remember. Always use a recipe that has some kind of binder or thickener. I prefer to use cornstarch. But you will also see flour used.
Making a small cornstarch slurry and adding it at the end of the cooking process brings the wine and cheese together. You will notice that the wine and cheese do not naturally join into a harmonious union until you add it and give it a good whisk.
Check out the KCTV 5 segment below along with the fondue recipe.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 1/4 cup white wine, light, un-oaked
1 garlic clove
7 ounces Alpage Gruyere, shredded
7 ounces Emmental, shredded
7 ounces Vacherin Fribourgeois, shredded
1/4 cup Kirsch (a clear cherry brandy)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Nutmeg and black pepper to taste
Add wine and the garlic clove to a sturdy pot. Heat over medium-high heat, then add the cheeses one by one. Pause and stir after each cheese, letting it melt before adding another. Dissolve the cornstarch in the Kirsch. When all of the cheese is melted, add the Kirsch and cornstarch mixture to the pot and whisk vigorously until the fondue is smooth. Add black pepper and nutmeg to taste. Transfer to a fondue pot and enjoy with crusty bread, apples, cherry tomatoes and anything else that would be good to dip into melted cheese.
Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society-certified cheese professional. He is the manager and buyer for the Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can find him on Twitter @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.