Cheese fondue. Those two words contain some of my most fond memories. Friends & family gathered around a pot of delicious, oooey goooey cheese for hours eating, drinking & laughing. These are the kind of nights memories are made of.
One of my most fond memories was also one of my greatest culinary mishaps. Friends the world over had gathered in the beautiful Canadian Okanagan to celebrate the marriage of two of my closest friends, Jeremy and Leah. We were surrounded by one of the best wine regions in Canada (the world). We had picked an assortment of fresh, local produce and cheeses for the fondue to end all fondue’s.
Then the great cheese curd of 2012 occurred. An unfortunate combination of infrequent stirring, too high a heat and adding too much cheese too quickly - we were left with a giant ball of solid cheese and a liquid broth surrounding it. It still tasted damn delicious and we laugh about it to this day - but I'm here to give you my insider tips so you get a beautiful fondue, every time.
First up is creating a thick wine sauce within which we will gradually add cheese. This wine sauce serves as the base, ensuring our heat isn't too high and allows the cheese to melt slowly into a silky fondue. After creating a roux to thicken the wine, make sure you turn your heat to low. The sauce should no longer be bubbling when you start to add your cheese and never bring it to a boil once you've started adding cheese. Another tip: add your cheese 1/5 at a time. When it all melts, add the next fifth an so on until all the cheese is incorporated. Lastly, stirring. I have no idea if this is true, but a few people claim that stirring the cheese in a circular motion can cause it to clump. Instead, use a Z-pattern through the cheese. [No idea if this last trick is true - but it's worked everytime - apparently i'm a superstitious man].
That's it! Pretty simple huh? You can modify this recipe many, MANY ways. You can change the variety of cheeses and add additional flavourings. I've added garlic, nutmeg and cherry liquor before - all a little different and all delicious.
The last round of cheese fondue, I made a pea & mint mash. Spread over bread and then drizzled with fondue cheese, it's sensational. To make, bring 1 cup chicken broth to boil in sauce pan. Add 2 cups frozen peas and cook until broth has reduced by 2/3rds. Season with salt and pepper and add 1/2 cup minced mint. Mash and you're ready to go.
Also delicious over bread and drizzled with cheese? Caramelized onions. These are also dead simple, and the recipe can be found in our pork panini post here.
An all time favourite for fondu is pan seared mushrooms. A cast iron pan plus a little butter, some mushrooms, salt and pepper and you're left with these little flavour nuggets.
Crispy potatoes are also a cheese fondue favourite. They are easily the first to go, everytime.
Aaaaaand, steak. Yup. It might seem crazy. But it's damn delicious. For those of you who aren't vegetarians, a seasoned and BBQ'd steak is a perfect to dunk into rich cheese.
Last up, is wrangle together some good company. It shouldn't be too hard, just about everyone loves cheese and if you're feeling a little lacking in the friends department, this is a sure fire way to make some new ones. Look at these dumb smiles:
That's it! My sure-fire way to a successful fondue. Enjoy guys!
Until next week...