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Fondue is fabulous

  • The classic choice for dipping in Swiss fondue is bread cubes, but there’s no reason to stop there. AP

Associated Press
Published: 7/26/2016 11:59:16 PM

Food as fashion has never made a lot of sense to me. Kale is out (no, not really), jackfruit is in, and so on.

But guess what? In Switzerland, the birthplace of fondue, this creamy cheese dish never went out of style, and once you make up a pot for your crew, you will realize why the Swiss never ever considered letting it go the way of the Jell-O mold.

Emmenthal cheese (or, in Switzerland, Emmental) and Gruyere are the two most classic cheeses used in authentic Swiss fondue. Other traditional choices are Comte, Rachlette and Swiss Vacherin, which melts beautifully.

If you want to add different cheeses, do; you need cheeses with flavor, and cheeses with a smooth, creamy melting texture – classically, cow’s milk cheeses made in the Alpine style. Fontina and Jarlsberg are good thoughts, too, and very accessible. Talk to your cheesemonger to see what else is an option.

Rubbing the pot with a garlic clove in this version adds a subtle touch of garlic; some recipes call for actual minced garlic to be added to the pot.

As for the kirsch, if you discuss “real” fondue with someone from Switzerland you will get a firm opinion on whether it should be included. Only a small amount of this cherry liqueur is used, so it doesn’t seem to be a deal breaker, at least to this fondue neophyte. Some people like to keep the kirsch out of the fondue, but dip the bread lightly into a small dish of it before dipping the bread into the cheese.

Other seasonings that might be added are dry mustard or nutmeg, but traditionalists would probably stab me with a fondue fork for suggesting such things.

The classic item to dip into cheese fondue is bread cubes, but there is no reason to stop there. Crackers, vegetables, even meats or fruit – anything that goes well with cheese is fair game.

Additional tips: Don’t overheat the cheese, and add it slowly. Melting cheese gradually over low temperature helps keep it smooth, not clumpy or stringy. If your fondue gets clumpy, add either a bit more wine or a couple of teaspoons of fresh lemon juice.

If you don’t have a fondue pot, you can still make fondue and just serve it in the pot you cooked it in. Reheat it, stirring, as needed. Or just eat it fast!

Classic Swiss Fondue

garlic clove

1½ cups dry white wine

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 pound grated Gruyere

½ pound grated Emmenthal (or Emmental) cheese

freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 teaspoons kirsch (optional)

To serve:

cubes of firm, day-old bread

lightly steamed asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower florets, or carrots

cherry tomatoes

strips of bell pepper

apple or pear slices

Rub the inside of a heavy pot, such as an enameled cast-iron pot, with the garlic clove.

Add the white wine, and heat over medium heat until hot. Toss the grated cheese in a bowl with the cornstarch. Add that mixture to the pot very gradually, stirring all the while, until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Season with pepper.

Meanwhile, arrange the bread and other dipping items attractively on a serving platter.

If you have a fondue pot, light the flame under it, and transfer the fondue to the fondue pot. Let everyone spear the food of their choice with fondue forks or other small forks, and dip away.

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