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10 December 2007

Foolproof cheese fondue recipes? I am planning to make fondue this weekend for the first time (in my awesome vintage 1960s fondue pot). Anyone have a recipe for cheese fondue that you know is good? Nothing stringy. I hate stringy. [More:]Bonus question: what can you dip in cheese fondue besides bread?
Recipes, I don't have.
For your bonus question: broccoli (my favorite), green beans, bread sticks (the crispy ones), apple slices.

This is making me hungry.
posted by bassjump 10 December | 11:53
Oh, and asparagus spears.

The veggies are usually best blanched.
posted by bassjump 10 December | 11:54
Little cubes of meat, little chicken wings, pretzels, tortilla corn chips.
posted by iconomy 10 December | 12:16
Ooo and pomme frittes! Any size potato wedges, but I think thicker is better.
posted by iconomy 10 December | 12:19
Ah, it occurs to me that I should add that the dippers must be vegetarian.
posted by amro 10 December | 12:19
O, when I wander upstairs to get coffee from the kitchen, I'll grab my cheese fondue recipe. My friend who lived in Switzerland taught it to me :)

We'd always have fun making it because the fondue would get some wine, then we'd get some wine, and by the time dinner was on the table, we'd be quite happy.
posted by Sil 10 December | 12:24
Vegetarians can dip fake litte cubes of meat ;P
posted by iconomy 10 December | 12:33
Another question: I've got one of those little cans of blue waxy stuff that you light under catering trays... Is that what I use under the fondue pot? (And what the heck is that blue stuff called; I forget.)
posted by amro 10 December | 12:34
Sterno - yep you use that.
posted by iconomy 10 December | 12:35
Sterno! That's it, thank you.
posted by amro 10 December | 12:37
Are there any fondue pots that have two melty compartments so that you can have more than one sauce at a time? I would love that. Barring that, I now need a vintage 60s fondue pot..hehe. Preferably red or orange!
posted by iconomy 10 December | 12:41
Here's the recipe we use:

Swiss Cheese Fondue

3 garlic cloves
6 cups cheese, grated (1/2 gruyere, 1/2 emmentaler)
2 tbs flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbs Kirschwasser (it's cherry brandy, which I keep onhand just for this recipe)
2 1/4 cup dry white wine

Take one garlic clove, slice in half. Use the cut side to rub the inside of the fondue pot, when it gets "worn out," finish with the other half. Mince the garlic (including the two you used to rub). Put wine & garlic in pot and turn pot on for cooking. When it is hot, add handfuls of cheese, stirring constantly.

When the cheese is all in, dust with cayenne powder (about a 1/4 tsp - although we just shake cayenne powder over the top and never measure). After you've combined everything in the pot, whisk the Kirschwasser, flour and baking soda together. Add to cheese mixture.

Now for the part that involves standing around the kitchen drinking wine and talking. Stir constantly, taking shifts if possible. It's hard to describe, and will take forever, but you will eventually see a change in the consistency. When that happens (and not when you arm feels as if it's going to fall off from stirring), dinner is ready for dipping things. We tended to put bread in the oven, cubed, at 200 degrees for a while as we prepared the cheese so that the cubes get nice and hard for dipping.
posted by Sil 10 December | 12:44
O, Cathy said that you could substitute aged cheddar and swiss for the two cheese I put in the recipe, but we never did it that way so I can't vouch for it!

Funny that you bring this up, I'm making it for a friend on Wednesday if she can earn enough extra points in Weight Watchers!
posted by Sil 10 December | 12:47
Thanks, Sil! Can I make it in a saucepan on the stovetop and then transfer it into the fondue pot when it's done cooking?

Iconomy, my fondue pot is avocado green with pictures of mushrooms on it! That was a good thrift store find, although not my find - it was a gift.
posted by amro 10 December | 12:53
Absolutely. I have an electric fondue pot that I use (I lost my vintage fondue pot from my parents :( ) but it shouldn't be any problem to transfer once it is done.

I'd probably rub both the fondue pot and the saucepan with the garlic.

The big thing is to keep it warm once it is done or the cheese will start to harden. That's why the dipping is good - you swirl your fondue fork to coat the item you are dipping, and it keeps the cheese stirred as you and your friends are eating it.

So make sure your fondue pot is heated before you transfer the cheese mixture :)

I always felt as the hostess that I should keep an eye on it when it was on the table and swirl deeply when dipping to keep it stirred, but you could make that a table task too!
posted by Sil 10 December | 13:09
You can absolutely make it in a saucepan and transfer it into a fondue pot. We have one of those little pots with a tealight in it.

We use a recipe similar to sil's, but minus a few ingredients. It is like so:

1/2 cup shredded gruyere
1/2 cup shredded emmenthal
2 tablespoons flour
2 garlic cloves (half one and spread it around the pot. drop the others into the saucepan for a bit of extra flavor)
dash cracked black pepper
1 1/4 cups dry white wine -- we usually try to go with a Burgundy, like a nice Louis Jadot -- because you're going to be drinking the rest of the wine and you want it to be good.

The directions are all basically the same as sil's.

We've done a lot of different dippers, but my favorites are carrots, asparagus, blanched stringbeans, broccoli, and BREAD. really, it's all about the bread.
posted by brina 10 December | 13:16
PS -- We've found the cherry brandy to be super-expensive and kind of unnecessary. Instead, we mix the tablespoon of flour with the grated cheese before adding it into the pot.
posted by brina 10 December | 13:19
I am not entirely alert (I'm just finishing my first cup of coffee) and I should probably amend my recipe above by saying we dust the grated cheese with the flour too.

Everything else is right otherwise, I just wasn't caffeinated enough to remember that until brina mentioned it! Just the baking soda gets mixed with the brandy.
posted by Sil 10 December | 13:57
My recipe resembles Sil's (and was also taught me by a Swiss friend! Hi, Sil!) and Brina's (Hi, Brina!), varying only on these points:

- garlic is sliced paper-thin, not minced
- no baking soda, and I'm intrigued by this addition. My underbrain is now whirring furiously trying to figure out the chemical effect of it.
- I use cheap crappy Swiss-friend approved kirsch (which I also use for baking)
- a little nutmeg

and the last, which SwissFriend insisted was the key:

- as the fondue heats on the stove, you whip in a good glomp of mascarpone to make it smooth and creamy.

We've only been using this recipe for a few years, but already my mother has decided it's a Christmas tradition. Since the fondue is pretty simple, I like to go crazy with the dipping choices. We usually have:

- two kinds of bread, light and dark, cubed and warmed
- roasted chunks of sweet potatoes, potatoes, and butternut squash
- blanched broccoli and green beans (Yeah, whoever suggested asparagus upthread is a brilliant clever intelligent genius!)
- halved grape tomatoes
- dark grapes, chunked apples and pears

and a very simple salad on the side with a sharp or tart dressing.
posted by Elsa 10 December | 14:35

Three more things, all of which you might well know already:

thing one: many fondue pots are safe for the stovetop, in which case just get everything melted right in the fondue pot and transfer the whole shebang to the fondue-pot stand with the sterno.

thing two: if your fondue turns out like my fondue, there will be a point when it looks like a disastrous mess, when you despair of ever whipping it smooth, when it's a gluey lump of cheese in an oily puddle of wine. Just keep stirring and drinking wine or beer or a crisp fruit juice, and don't worry. Having someone else to talk to and take turns with makes this much more festive.

thing three: when it comes time to extinguish the sterno in its can, look to see if a fireproof paddle-shaped thingee came with your fondue set. That thing is the extinguisher. You slide in over the sterno container to cut off the air so the flame gutters out.

Now you have me really looking forward to the traditional holiday fondue!
posted by Elsa 10 December | 14:42
Ooo and pomme frittes! Any size potato wedges, but I think thicker is better.

Heh. Posh cheese fries. Amro will be delighted.
posted by essexjan 10 December | 14:44
You know me well, essexjan. You know me well.
posted by amro 10 December | 15:23
I agree with Sil, but I married into a family with a Swiss background and there are a few differences that stand out. Cayenne is not really part of it. Use corn starch instead of flour, mixed with Kirschwasser. For a nuttier flavor use 1/3 gruyere, 1/3 emmentaler, and 1/3 appenzel. If you can find it, Vacherin makes a great accent cheese - no more than 4 oz to a pot. Also add 4 oz sliced mushrooms, even better if you can get fresh morels or chantrelles. If you can find dried morels or chantrelles, reconstitute them in white wine.

Notes: avoid French Kirschwasser like the plague. Etter (if you can find it) is among the best I've tried. Schladerer (sp?) make decent kirsch, Kamer is OK.
posted by plinth 10 December | 21:50
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