Sunday, November 1, 2009

You Can Fondue It!

I love my boyfriend Jeff. I also happen to love cheese fondue. So when he suggested last Halloween that we stay in and cook, a tradition was born!

Fondue is one of the simplest meals anyone can add to their catalog. What's great about it is that most people consider this Swiss classic something terribly elegant and difficult to master when in reality it takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare and is essentially a few tricks to throwing cheese in a pot of broth!

There are literally hundreds of fondue recipes available but our absolute favorite is this classic cheddar cheese fondue. Simple, delicious, done!

Classic Cheddar Cheese Fondue

Serves two

A note about hardware:

It is not necessary to own a special fondue pot for this recipe, but it helps. You can find an electric fondue set for under 30 dollars at Target, Walmart or Kmart. The set will include a metal pot with handles, detachable power cord with adjustable temperature settings, color coordinated fondue forks, and a plastic fork rest that you will more than likely never use. Avoid buying a set that is not electric--these sets usually require the use of Sterno which causes burnt cheese and an uneven distribution of heat. If you don't want to spend the money, place a deep metal bowl(about 2 quarts) atop a pot of water with about two inches of water.

What you need:

4 ounces of light beer, with about 2 additional tbsp in reserve
1 tsp garlic
mustard powder
2 cups cheddar cheese (sharp or mild variety is fine)
1-3 tsp all purpose flour
Worcester sauce
Fresh black pepper

Bakery bread, fresh veggies, Granny Smith apples

In a shallow bowl, toss the cheese with 1 tsp of flour to coat. Use more if required until the cheese has an ashy look to it. Set the cheese aside.

Next, slice the bread, apples, and vegetables into bite sized pieces and either arrange in bowls or on a platter. You will want to soak the apples in a bath of lemon water to prevent browning due to oxidation.

Pre-heat the fondue pot to 375. If using the double boiler method, heat the pot on medium. Add the beer and allow to come to a light boil. Add the garlic and stir together. If you are like me and love garlic, you can use more. It will only add to the flavor. Add about 5 dashes of the ground mustard powder.

Begin to slowly add the cheese, a small handful at a time. The best way to stir at this point is in a figure-8 motion with a fork. This allows the cheese to become better incorporated into the broth without gumming up. Its also fun to pull the cheese out of the pot with a little artistic flair--c'mon, who doesn't like showing off! Continue to add the cheese until the texture is between thick and thin. The best way to test the texture is to see if it coats the back of the fork. If it runs off, add more cheese. If it sticks but is very thick, add a tablespoon more of the beer until the desired consistency occurs.

Add 5 dashes of the Worcester sauce and about 5 turns of fresh black better. Drop the heat to warm and serve, not forgetting to drain the apples and pat them dry.

Bon Appetit my cheesy friends!


Shauna, aka The College Gastronome

Quick and Dirty Q&A with TCG

1)I really don't like beer, or I'm under 18,19,21 or whatever the legal age to purchase beer is in my home state. Does that mean fondue is lost to me?

No; if you dislike the taste of beer, or aren't able to get a hold of any, a few substitutions are available. Chicken or vegetable broth from a can work wonderful. Bouillon dissolved in water is good as well. Milk can be used but try to avoid using whole varieties--it tends to make the mixture much thicker than it is supposed to be. You can use the same amount as the beer (4 ounces) but be sure to have some liquid on reserve to combat thickness.

2)You mention vegetables, but none specific. What are the best to use?

My staples for fresh veggies with fondue are celery, baby carrots, and broccoli. Really, you can use any vegetable from leeks, radishes, or cauliflower. The important aspect here is that the vegetables are fresh, free from blemish, and have a good crunch.

3)Why is there flour on the cheese? Won't it taste terrible?

The flour acts as a thickening agent for the cheese. It also prevents the cheese from hardening into clumps when cooking. If you don't flour your cheese it will end up sticking everywhere and will lack the velvety texture it needs to be delicious.

Questions? Comment below XOXO