Fondue at home is an easy and simple meal that can be filling and flavorful. It started out as a dish in Switzerland and has a reputation of being a hearty, simple, and rustic cuisine. During the cold winters when food was scarce, families would use fondue as a means to use slightly stale foods. Melting the cheese negated any risk of mold, and the liquidity of the cheese served to moisten otherwise stale bread. The preparation for fondue takes about 40 minutes, and the cooking itself takes between 45-60 minutes. The ingredients are as follows and should serve 2-4 people:
Using a two to one ratio between Emmentaler and Gruyere cheese will balance the flavors. Slice the cheese into roughly one inch in cubes and toss with flour. Cut the bread into slightly larger pieces than the cheese. Rub the garlic onto the bottom and edges of the pot for flavor. Next, add the wine and lemon juice and on low heat bring the liquid to a simmer. The best way to tell if the liquid is ready for the addition of the cheese is that small bubbles start to form on the bottom and sides of the pot. Once the mixture is at this temperature, begin adding the cheese by the handful and stir as it melts. You do not need to wait for all the cheese to melt before adding another handful, one handful every five minutes should be adequate. If you begin to see any bubbles form in the cheesy mixture, lower the heat to avoid scorching the bottom of the pot and burning the cheese. Continue this process of adding and stirring until all the cheese is used.
Once all your cheese is melted, add the kirsch and stir briefly. For extra flavor, you can add a dash of nutmeg. A difficulty that arises with fondue is serving it at a table. If you do not use a chafing dish to keep the cheese warm off the stove, the cheese will quickly cool, thicken and harden. Light your dish right before transferring the pot from the stove to the table. Maintain a constant heat and watch for any bubbles. You may have to adjust the flame throughout the meal as the level of cheese lowers, so keep watching it!
Other variations on the fondue include using Gouda cheese, bacon, or even beer for extra flavor. A dessert option for fondue is always a favorite, the chocolate fondue. To make this version, start by heating heavy whipping cream in a pan until it boils. Remove the pan from the heat and add chopped semisweet chocolate and stir until smooth. The proper ration is 1 1/4 cups chocolate for every 1 cup whipping cream. Fun dipping tools for this treat include biscotti, strawberries, or even pineapple. The best part about fondue is sharing with everyone and the communal feel of the meal!