When the days get shorter and everyone just wants to curl up by the fire, cheese fondue is a perfect entrée for an intimate dinner party. Communal bowls of food were common with the Swiss farmers in the 19th century. Everyone had a spoon and dipped in. Cheese fondue is one of the leftovers from that era, one that has even been gentrified and made into a 70s cult (remember your parents burnt ocher and avocado green fondue set?).
Cheese fondue is relatively easy to make, just cheese, wine, bread and some spices. So melt away and enjoy the moment.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 2 lb. of cheese, suggested Gouda, Emmentaler or Gruyère, or a mixture
- 4 c. of dry white wine, Sauvignon Blanc or Müller-Thurgau
- 1 T. fine flour, such as Wondra
- 1 T. Kirschwasser
- Lemon juice to taste
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 1-2 loaves of fresh, white French bread cut into cubes
- Mushrooms, halved (optional)
- Broccoli or other lightly steamed or raw vegetables (optional)
Grate the cheese. Rub the fondue pot with the garlic clove. Warm 2 cups of wine in the pot and add the cheese, one handful at a time, stirring while it melts. Keep stirring or the cheese may clump.
Stir the flour into the Kirschwasser, then add it slowly to the pot. Even if the cheese is clumping a bit, this addition should help smooth it out. Add a little lemon juice (less than a tablespoon) and add pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Add more wine as necessary, to thin the fondue until it coats a piece of bread, but doesn’t take half the pot with it.
Take the fondue pot to the table and place in on its stand with a lighted Sterno can under it.
Eat the fondue by stabbing the bread cubes or vegetables with a fondue fork (a long handled, 2-prong, skinny fork with barbs so the bread doesn’t fall into the pot). Dip the bread into the cheese and swirl a bit to coat. Let it cool a few seconds before eating.
To drink: Hot tea, schnapps for better digestion of the cheese.
Tips: If your bread falls into the pot, you must take a shot of schnapps or Kirschwasser.
Also, as you get down to the bottom of the pot, many people like to let the last bit of cheese caramelize on the bottom, scrape it up and eat it. Be sure you get your fair share!
Other recipes for small, holiday dinner parties: