‘Tis the Season for Fondue

The Wandering Cheesemonger has wandered back to Wisconsin in time for winter.  She offers this advice for the season:

Fondue is the perfect decadent treat for a cold winter’s night, traditionally eaten in mountainous regions where a good cheesy meal could help ward off the snow and ice.  A lot of people come to me baffled by how exactly to make a fondue, so I wanted to share my personal favorite recipe while we’re going into peak fondue season.  Fondue is usually primarily made from alpine style cheeses, such as Gruyere or Comte.  The buttery, floral flavor of these easy-to-melt cheeses make for a delectable pot of fondue.

The first thing you need for fondue is a base cheese; something not too flavorful (I like to use Emmental) to create a base for your fondue without overpowering the other cheeses. Once you have your base cheese, you can start being a little more creative in cheese choice. For a traditional style fondue, I usually add Pleasant Ridge Reserve, from Uplands Cheese, as well as Gran Cru Surchoix, from Roth Kase, both in Wisconsin.  Both of these are alpine-style cheeses with fuller flavor than the Emmental. They add light floral, fruity notes to the fondue, but at the same time don’t make the flavor too crazy. You can also use Comte or Beaufort as your two more flavorful cheeses, imported alpine-style cheeses made in France and used in traditional French fondue -I just like to go local when possible!

Of course, fondue can be made with much crazier cheese combinations.  It is usually important to make sure that any cheese you use melts well.  Stay away from bloomy rind cheeses, which don’t melt very well, but beyond that, the sky’s the limit.  I once made fondue with quadrello, a buffalo milk cheese from Italy that isn’t considered a good melting cheese. The high fat content in the buffalo milk made my fondue look a little greasy, but the taste was out of this world.

In general, I stick to this basic recipe:

4-6 ounces of cheese per person of:
2 parts Emmental
1 part Pleasant Ridge Reserve
1 part Gran Cru Surchoix (or other Gruyere-style cheese)

Before beginning, grate all of your cheese, then rub the fondue pot with whole garlic cloves, then chop the garlic up and place it in the pot with a splash of dry white wine.  Gradually add the grated cheese, heating and stirring as you go along.  Add a little more wine if the cheese starts to get too thick, but be careful to add only a tiny bit at a time!

I like to cut up some crusty bread, grab some cornichons (a traditional French fondue companion), and then steam a little broccoli to dip in my fondue.

If you’re still nervous about making the right fondue, come in to Fromagination for more guidance, and a cheesemonger will help you find the perfect cheeses!

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