Cheese fondue

Cheese fondue is a traditional Swiss dish. Gruyère and Emmental cheeses melted in a fondue pot with wine, garlic, and kirsch. Served with bread and apple for dipping. Contrary to popular view outside of Switzerland, cheese fondue did not originate as an après-ski snack. It’s a hearty peasant dish, using ingredients that were available in the winter: cheese, wine, coarse peasant bread. And since it a traditional dish, it never went ‘out of fashion’ or ‘died out’, as you might think it did if you live in the UK or the US or any place that had the Great Fondue Craze of the ’70s, when a fondue set was a ubiquitous wedding present. In Switzerland, ‘la fondue’ means a cheese fondue and nothing else. Other types of dip-bits-of-food-in-a-communal-pot dishes are specifically called fondue-something, e.g. fondue bourgignonne (bits of beef filet fried in a pot of oil), fondue chinoise (thin slices of beef or other things cooked in a pot of broth), and so on.

Ingredients:

1 large loaf of crusty bread, crusts left on, cut into 2.5 cm triangles (or cubes)

250 g Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated

250 g Emmental cheese, coarsely grated

30 g plain flour

500 ml dry white wine

1 garlic clove, lightly crushed

2 tbsp kirsch (Kirschwasser)

pinch of grated nutmeg

salt and black pepper

2 tart apples, quartered and sliced

60 g  sesame seeds, lightly toasted

30 g cumin seeds, lightly toasted

1 fondue set

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Preparation:

Place the pieces of bread on a large baking tray and put into a preheated oven at 160°C for 3 – 5 minutes until dried out slightly.

Put the Gruyère and Emmental cheeses into a medium bowl, and toss with the flour.

Put the wine and garlic into a fondue pot and boil for 2 minutes, then lower the heat so that the mixture is barely simmering. Add the cheese mixture, a spoonful at a time, stirring constantly with a fork and letting each spoonful melt before adding the next.

When the fondue is creamy and smooth, stir in the kirsch, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, put the fondue pot on to small burner, and set the heat on low so that the mixture barely simmers. Arrange the bread, apple slices, and sesame and cumin seeds in dishes for your guests to dip into as desired.

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