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There’s nothing like fondue for a hearty meal on a cool fall evening. This Swiss national dish is delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare. Whether shared with family or friends, the ritual of sharing a pot of fondue only adds to the enjoyment of being together.
Swiss mountaineers came up with the idea of dipping bits of bread into melted cheese to showcase their now world-famous cheeses – Gruyère and Emmental. Of course, you can make fondue with other cheeses, but it’s always a good idea to keep it classic on your first attempt. Try the traditional recipe below.
To prepare fondue, you’ll need a fondue pot (enameled cast iron pot), a stand for the center of the table, a food warmer to keep the fondue nice and hot, and fondue forks. These utensils are included in a fondue set, which could make a great addition to your holiday wish or gift list…
Even if you don’t have a fondue set (yet), there is no reason you can’t still enjoy this fabulous dish. Use a heavy-bottomed pot and put it on a fire-resistant table mat on the table – just remember to put the pot back on the stove from time to time to reheat as needed.
Rub the inside of the fondue pot with garlic (you can then discard or leave it in the pot). Add wine and cheese and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly in a figure eight motion with a wooden spoon. Once the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth, dissolve the cornstarch in kirsch and stir into cheese to aid in thickening. Continue heating until fondue is smooth and creamy. All that’s left now is to season with pepper and nutmeg. Serve immediately, placing fondue pot on its stand over a food warmer, and enjoy!
Pair Fondue with the same white wine used in the recipe, making sure it’s well chilled. It’s best to choose a wine from the Alps (where fondue originated), such as a Fendant du Valais, but any good dry white wine will do. You can also serve light black tea – it goes great with fondue and will please any guest who may not drink wine.
If you want to serve an appetizer, veggies and dip is both a refreshing and logical choice, since it adds a healthy touch to the meal. To top everything off, finish with a light dessert such as fruit salad or lemon sorbet.
Fondue is the perfect dish for company, so instead of the stove why not prepare it directly over the food warmer, right in the middle of the table? That way, all your guests can get involved and learn how to make fondue, if they don’t know how to already.
The bread should be crusty or it will be hard to spear with the fondue fork. Crusty bread is perfect for dipping in melted cheese, but there’s no rule against using other foods like pieces of cauliflower or green apple. Small, precooked potatoes also make a great alternative to bread. If the fondue is too liquid, increase the heat on the food warmer and add more grated cheese or a bit of cornstarch dissolved in white wine. If it’s too thick, increase the heat and stir in some white wine.
When there is only a little cheese left, impress your guests by breaking an egg into the fondue pot and cooking it mixed with the cheese – they’ll be asking for seconds! And once all of the fondue has been eaten, there will be a crust that the Swiss call “la religieuse.” Remove it with a spatula and share it with your guests – it’s simply divine!
Part of the Swiss Fondue tradition, is a “punishment” meted out to guests unlucky enough to drop their bread in the pot. In an alpine lodge in Switzerland, the culprit may, for example, have to run around the lodge barefoot in the snow. But you can be a bit more lenient, imposing lighter punishments such as having to kiss a neighbour, sing a song, or down a shot of kirsch. Use your imagination – and get the party started!
Planning a trip to the land of fondue? Remember that although the Swiss healthcare system is among the most renowned, the medical fees are very high for non-residents, which is why you should purchase insurance that reimburses your medical fees if visiting. Before you go, talk to a Blue Cross agent to get an insurance product that lets you travel to Switzerland or elsewhere in the world with total peace of mind.