Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to make authentic Swiss Fondue

We're having an unusual August cold snap, which has me in the mood for fondue. It's kind of like fall TV shows; you're sad to see summer coming to an end, but the bright side is, Homeland is starting again. ;) I know some people who can eat fondue or raclette regardless of the weather, but for me, it is strictly a cold weather indulgence! Click on "Read more" below to get step-by-step instructions on making authentic Swiss fondue.

You'll need the following:

Bread cut into cubes
1/2 cup white wine
2 cloves of garlic
Lots of fresh ground pepper
Kirsch (or brandy worked once, too, in a pinch)
Corn starch
150-200 grams of cheese per person

I learned to make fondue from a woman I knew while living in Neuchâtel. Her method is super quick and easy - and incredibly creamy, smooth and delicious. It's important to have a cauqelon that can go on the stove and not a fondue set that's just for keeping it warm. For cheese, the traditional is a half-and-half blend of Gruyère and Vacherin Fribourgeois. You can easily find Gruyère in the States, but Vacherin Fribourgeois is a raw cheese, and therefore cannot be imported or made there, so visit a good cheese shop in your area and ask what they have that would make a suitable substitute. In Portland, we used Cheese Bar

Peel and halve the garlic. Then rub the bottom and lower sides of the caquelon with the garlic while squeezing it gently. Then slice the garlic into thin slices and place on the bottom of the empty caquelon. Then grind lots of pepper on top. 

Place the caquelon on the stove on high.

When the caquelon is hot enough that the garlic and pepper are fragrant, add the white wine.

Cube bread while you wait for the wine to start to bubble.
When the wine is bubbling and a bit frothy, add the cheese.
Be patient and stir. At first you'll think you didn't use enough wine, but then the cheese does this magical thing where it creates a bunch of liquid and it all works out. 
When the cheese is fully melted, you'll add the corn starch and kirsch to keep it from separating and thicken it up. Measure out about a tablespoon into a shot glass.
Fill the rest of the way with Kirsch and stir to combine.
Transfer to the sterno on the table, stir in the Kirsch and corn starch mixture and enjoy!
If the cheese sticks to the bottom, don't pull it up. At the end, it forms a sort of cracker that you can let cool, pull up and eat. It's so yummy!
It's always good to eat fondue with the kitchen door closed, and then burn a nice-smelling kitchen candle afterward. You don't want your house to smell like stinky cheese! 

What are your favorite things about fall coming and summer's end? 

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