Best for the winter months, probably too heavy to eat when it's hot, and a
wonderfully social food. The more the merrier!-Jen (The Swiss Miss)
Equipment is important. The best pot for a cheese fondue is an
earthenware/ceramic caquelon with a handle. Aluminum is not good. You will also
need a flame to keep under the fondue as you're eating, and fondue forks, so
an actual fondue set is best.
One pound shredded cheese. The choice of cheese will depend on how strong
you want your fondue. For a mild fondue, use all Swiss Emmentaler.
American Swiss cheese is rarely aged long enough for a good fondue flavor;
also cheese not fully aged doesn't melt very smoothly. It's worth your while
to spend a bit more to get imported Swiss Emmentaler. For a slightly sharper fondue,
use half Emmentaler and half Gruyere. If you want a good strong fondue, use
one third Emmentaler and two-thirds Gruyere. (Gruyere also melts just a bit better)
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1-2 garlic gloves, depending on your preference for garlic, or more
2 cups dry white wine. It's important that it be very dry. If you can get your
hands on a Swiss Neuchatel, that's recommended. Don't use a wine you don't consider
good enough to drink freestanding.
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons Kirsch (a Swiss cherry liquor – I suppose maraskino would work
for you Croats!) if you can find it, or brandy
nutmeg, pepper, or paprika to taste (a dash of nutmeg is quite good in a fondue!)
a good French or Italian bread, cut into cubes. Probably about two loaves.
Spend the money to buy a good bread; no Wonderbread allowed! If you can cut it
so that no cube is all inside, but each cube has some crust on it, more the better.
Combine the cheese and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside.
Break the garlic (don't mince or crush, leave the clove whole) and rub the
inside of the caquelon with the garlic clove or cloves; leave it/them in the pot.
Pour in the wine and set over medium heat. When air bubbles begin to rise
but BEFORE it comes to a boil, add the lemon juice.
Add the cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly with a wooden fork or spoon
until the cheese is melting.
Add the Kirsch or brandy and spices, stirring until blended.
The cheese should be melted, but thick. Serve; you have to keep
the cheese bubbling over a burner with a medium flame.
Spear the bread cubes with the fondue forks, swirl around in the cheese, and eat!
Care of the fondue:
It is important to keep the fondue bubbling lightly at all times.
Swirl your bread around in the cheese briefly as you dunk. This will help keep the
cheese moving and keep it from burning on the bottom of the pot. A little hard crust
will form in the center of the bottom of the pot right over the flame; the Swiss
consider this a special treat and fight over who gets to eat it!
If your fondue becomes lumpy, or if the liquid separates from the fat, sometimes it's
possible to "rescue" it - put it back on the stove, stir thoroughly with a wire wisk,
and add about ½ teaspoon cornstarch.
Fondue can be tough to make – knowing when the cheese is melted or if it's melting
too fast, can take a bit of a "knack." My first attempt at fondue was a bit of a
disaster, and I generally let my husband the actual Swiss in the family, or
better yet his father, take care of it.
Care of the fondue eater:
Do NOT drink cold or iced drinks with your fondue, although white wine is fine.
Hot black tea is often served with fondue along with white wine. Cold drinks
with your fondue will make for a very troubled tummy later in the evening.
Just trust me on this one.
An optional shot glass of Kirsch is often served with fondue. You can quickly
dunk your bread in this before swirling it in the cheese.
If you opt for both the wine and the Kirsch, you may get a bit tipsy by the end
of your meal!