I’m always suspicious when customers snag hefty hunks of Swiss cheese out of our case. Even more suspect are cut-to-order requests for pounds of Raclette or Gruyere. The fate of these cheeses is definite- they are going to be melted. And sure, I’m a fan of Raclette grills. They are fun and make for an uncomplicated communal meal. But to me, fondue always seemed like some silly seventies fad- something made for parties that was a whole lot of mess and a whole lot of mediocre. A big sticky cheesy stew. A waste of perfectly good cheese.
A few months into winter, one customer became a noticeable frequenter of the Alpine cheeses. He was hooked on the Beeler Appenzeller, couldn’t get enough Beaufort d’Alpage, and eagerly awaited the Vacherin Fribourgeois. He was buying cheeses I found very delicious, and he was buying them for fondue. When I confessed I’d never tried fondue, he offered up his recipe complete with insider tips and a few variations. It turns out he lived in Switzerland for a stretch and is a seasoned maker of fondue. Rumor has it that he “wore out” his Swiss fondue pot and had to get another one… This guy is serious.
So we decided that, purely for the sake of our jobs of course, we should learn how to make great fondue. I thought it would be best to go classic, and because of my francophile tendencies, I was drawn to the French-Swiss option. Caitlin and Adam were on board for the experiment, and it went swimmingly, certainly a fitting use of fine cheese. We followed the recipe as best we could, using an enameled dutch oven in place of a fondue pot. For fondue accoutrements, we blanched some broccoli, roasted some potatoes, diced some bread and sliced some apples. The fondue was, we all agreed, incredibly delicious. I’m a convert! Give this recipe a shot while we still have all of these great fondue cheeses in the store!
Here’s his recipe, with some notes:
- Rub pot with garlic, diced to task (we used one big clove, use 1 clove/person for garlic lovers)
- 100 ml wine per person -Swiss wine (we used a white burgundy)
- 200g grated cheese per person – 1/2 Gruyere 1/2 Vacherin Fribourgeois (Emmenthaler for the German-Swiss version)
- Add wine/cheese to pot, turn on heat, stir in figure 8 motion- this was stressed as very important (we got a little excited and added it all at once… we suggest a little wine + a handful of cheese, a little wine + a handful of cheese, etc.) *Insider tip* add lemon juice if it starts to separate
- Heat cheese until it starts to bubble
- Mix together 1tsp cornstarch per person and 1-2 tbl kirsch per person, add to pot. *Good kirsch is not cheap and our customer insisted that for the real deal we needed the real deal ($40 a bottle)
- Sprinkle Nutmeg and/or Paprika on top (optional)
- Dip in!