Source: Family Beerli; cir. 1970’s
The Cheese Fondue, was popularized by the Swiss and made it a national dish in the 1930’s by the Swiss Cheese Union.
In the 50’s, Fondue hit north America and by the 60’s, it was as popular as hippies were in San Francisco. Fondue is everywhere in Switzerland. Certainly, it’s at every mountain top, and quite popular in the colder months, especially snowy, wintry nights after a long day on the ski slopes. Though you need not be on the slopes to dive into this guilt free. We often gather around our round table to enjoy fondue together. It’s on our families top 5 list-but beware, not all fondue’s are the same. It’s the gentle 3-cheese combination that makes this dish a winner.
Yes, this Swiss classic was also a special introduction from my father-in-law. Upon his first visit to California he made this classic lovely for us. Even though it was a known product in America, it was the first time I had ever had it. We gathered around our kitchen table, set the Fondue pot in the middle and enjoyed our evening filled with Swiss cheese, bread, and a chilled white wine. Memories forever.
But, don’t forget the bread here. It’s nearly as important as the fondue itself. As, you could never think about dipping a white bread into a cheese fondue. Traditionally speaking, the Swiss like to dip with a nice hearty loaf of medium/dark bread called ruchbrot. Cut up in cubes, and ideally let out to harden over-night. But, since about a year now, I’ve found a new favorite bread for our fondue. It’s a home-made version that I adapted from a food magazine from Switzerland. I highly recommend it. It’s lovely, crunchy and just perfect for fondue!
- 5 dl white wine (1dl per person) Chardonnay or a dry wine
- 1 lb gruyère cheese shredded (400 – 500gr)
- 1 lb emmentaler cheese shredded
- 1 lb appenzeller cheese shredded
- 5 clove garlic 1 ea person, diced
- 1 tbs cornstarch to bind the fats from the cheese
- Rub the still cold pot with the cut garlic piece. (this flavors the clay pot with a nice garlic aroma) Get cheese assembled and cut the rind off. We bought 2 packages of cheese each, as you see on the forms.
- Shred the cheese and put together in a bowl, ready for melting
- Cut the garlic, not to fine and put aside.
- Pour in the wine and bring it to a boil.
- Add the cheese one handful at a time and wait until melted. Stir continuously. Add the diced garlic.
- Keep stirring the mixture. We advise a wooden spoon with a hole in the center, which allows you to check the consistency.
- Take a small teacup add the cornstarch and use very little wine, just enough to bring it to a thick creamy consistency. Add it to the cheese-mix and wait for about 2 to 4 minutes. It should start to become very creamy. Even the thin oily top layer should now bind.
- Keep stirring until mixture begins to boil. At this point, all the cheese should be melted, smooth and you should have the desired thickness achieved.
- When the mixture is creamed together and well bound, add fresh ground pepper on top with some nutmeg (muscat). Its ready to roll
- Note: For dipping, buy a nice sour-dough or an Italian bread loaf, and cut it in 1″ squares the morning of, this allows the bread to dry out a bit and be perfect for dipping. Add accompaniments to the options for dipping such as pickles, pickled onions, pickled vegetables, or whatever else you might have in mind.
- To make this Swiss tradition complete, each place setting has a shot-glass of “Kirschschnaps” or a tangy schnapps to dip each square of bread in, before it goes into the cheese dip.
- Have your fondue pot in the center of the table with the gas lighter ready to go when you take the pot from the stove, to the table. Set individual plates and fondue forks. Keep to Swiss rule: when someone loses their bread from the fork in the fondue pot, the loser must give every person at the table, a kiss. Feel free to make up your own rules for fun!
- When the pot’s been licked clean, it’s a job well done! (15 minutes later)