In our house, we have a fondness for cheese. There’s no question about it. It’s various forms delight us and it’s many qualities enchant us. Cheese is as rich and varied as fine wine and frequently described in the same vein…earthy, nutty, pungent, sweet, salty, buttery, the list goes on. Personally, I don’t have a super palette, I’m a simple gal. All I can really tell you is either I like it or I don’t. Most of the time I like it, but some of the time I LOVE it.
Cheese can elevate a dish just by making a brief appearance on top, or it can mingle with the other ingredients from the very start and really create something spectacular. Frequently, however, we like to make it the star of the show. In it’s purest form, a nice cheese board adorned with a couple of salty, cured meats and a handful of grapes or sliced apples makes for mighty fine eating. Add a little heat and this same meal is transformed into a whole lot of comfort in a pot. Cue the fondue.
Several years ago, The Melting Pot opened a restaurant in our neck of the woods and I was smitten with the idea of sitting down to eat a pot of warm gooey cheese whenever the desire hit me. After a couple of meals there, however, I thought “we can do this better at home” and we did. My first foray into fondue found me standing at a Whole Foods cash register staring in disbelief while the cashier wrestled $100 out of my clenched fist for a couple of chunks of fancy schmancy cheese. While good quality cheese is a must, there’s no need to put the cheese monger’s kids through college. I now opt for a nice chunk of jarlsberg supplemented with a bit of emmentaler or gruyere.
Fondue is a really easy meal to prepare, but it feels decadent and special. We have an electric fondue pot which makes it easy to keep the cheese warm throughout dinner. Just as important for rounding out this meal are the dippers. I made a loaf of bread and Kirk smoked sausage and grilled some beef. We added broccoli, carrots, celery and apple slices and voila! Dinner is served!
Classic Cheese Fondue
1/2 lb Jarlsberg or other imported Swiss cheese (shredded)
1/2 lb Emmentaler or Gruyere cheese (shredded)
1 cup dry white wine
one garlic clove peeled and halved
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
In a medium bowl toss the cheeses with the cornstarch and set aside.
Rub the garlic half around the bowl of the fondue pot. Heat the pot and add the white wine. Bring to a simmer.
Add the cheese to the wine a handful at a time, stirring with a fork until smooth.
Stir in the fresh lemon juice, dry mustard and nutmeg.
Grab a dipper and enjoy!