There’s nothing quite as gluttonously sexy as a vat of bubbling hot melted cheese, and on April 11, National Cheese Fondue Day, we celebrate this sinfully delicious dipping delight.
While fondue is heavenly at its best, not all cheeses will get you the same result. We turned to chef Shane Schaibly of The Melting Pot (the mecca of cheese fondue) to share tips on how to do fondue right, and he even shares a couple recipes that are sure to be a hit at your next gathering.
- When making cheese fondue, always use a thickener. Cheese should be shredded and tossed with flour or cornstarch to aid in thickening and to improve the viscosity of the fondue. A good rule of thumb is to use one tablespoon of flour or cornstarch per pound of cheese. Cheese fondue melted with a thickener should not be lumpy and should be the consistency of warm honey when completed.
- Monitor the cheese carefully as it is being added. Add the cheese gradually to get a finer, smoother consistency. Not all of the cheese may be needed, and, in some cases, more cheese may be needed to reach the perfect consistency.
- If the cheese fondue is too thick, add more of the liquid you used for the base. If it is too thin, add more cheese.
- Use the right base for your cheese fondue. Light beer pairs well with cheddar cheese while white wine pairs well with fondue staples Gruyere and Emmenthaler Swiss.
- Serve cheese fondue with bread like a French baguette, Granny Smith apples, vegetables like broccoli, carrots and cauliflower, pretzels, pears and cornichons for dipping.
- Wondering what to drink with your cheese fondue? Try more of the wine or beer you used as the base in the recipe!
- A ceramic or earthenware fondue pot is usually preferred for making cheese and chocolate fondues at home but a pot made of stainless steel is the ideal choice for preparing entree fondues.
- It’s best to choose a metal pot that comes with a ceramic insert for preparing cheese and chocolate fondues so that you can use the same pot for entree, cheese and chocolate fondues.
- Ceramic pots should be heated with a low flame. Fondue sets usually come with a burning apparatus, but, in a pinch, a tea light or small candle will usually do the trick.
- There are two types of metal fondue pots: electric or the old-fashioned open-flame variety. Electric pots allow you to easily control temperature. Today's open-flame pots have new types of fuels, such as gels, that are easy to use as well.
Traditional Swiss Fondue
Recipe from "The Melting Pot Cookbook"
- 3 and 1/2 cups (14 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
- 1 oz. cherry-flavored liqueur (Kirschwasser recommended)
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- Dash of grated nutmeg
Toss the cheese with the flour in a bowl. Place a metal bowl over a saucepan filled with two inches of water. You may also use a conventional double boiler. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and pour the wine into the bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and garlic using a fork. Cook for 30 seconds stirring constantly.
Add half of the cheese, and stir constantly until the cheese is melted. Add the remaining cheese a small amount at a time stirring constantly. Pour the liqueur slowly around the edge of the bowl. Pull the cheese mixture away from the edge of the bowl and cook for about one minute or until the alcohol cooks off. Stir the liqueur into the cheese. Stir the pepper in gently. Pour into a warm fondue pot and keep warm over low heat. Garnish with a dash of nutmeg.
Serves four to six.
Bourbon Bacon Cheddar Fondue
- 2 3/4 cups (11 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup beer (light beer is recommended)
- 4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- 4 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 2 tablespoons chopped cooked bacon
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- 4 teaspoons chopped scallions
Toss the cheese with the flour in a bowl. Place a metal bowl over a saucepan filled with 2 inches of water. You may also use a conventional double boiler. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and pour the beer into the bowl. Stir in the horseradish, mustard and Worcestershire sauce using a fork. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Add half the cheese and cook until the cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Add the remaining cheese a small amount at a time, stirring constantly in a circular motion after each addition until the cheese is melted. Pour the bourbon slowly around the edge of the bowl. Pull the cheese mixture away from the edge of the bowl and cook for about 30 seconds or until the alcohol cooks off. Stir the bourbon into the cheese. Fold in the bacon and pepper. Pour into a warm fondue pot and keep warm over low heat. Garnish with scallions.
Serves four to six.