Traditional Swiss Fondue

Traditional Swiss Fondue

John Nava, Sigona’s specialty foods & cheese curator, with Caroline Hostettler of Adopt-An-Alp & Quality Cheese, tend to a traditional Swiss fondue during our Alp Cheese Festival at our Palo Alto Market in 2018.

To make Fondue for four people, use the following recipe using 5 to 7 oz. of cheese per person. Make sure to read through the tips, tricks and rules below before you get started! This recipe and the additional information come to us from Caroline Hostettler, creator of the Adopt-an-Alp program, who is fond of Fondue!

Ingredients:

  • At least 3 garlic cloves, peeled, add more garlic if you like
  • About 28 oz. cheese (**see notes on choosing cheese below)
  • 3 1/2 oz. dry white wine
  • 4 Tbsp kirsch (cherry brandy) or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. corn starch
  • 2 squeezes lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For dunking:

Fresh bread, cubed

Special equipment:

  • Stove to start the cooking process
  • A Fondue pot, ideally a heavy, clay or ceramic one such as a Caquelon with a rechaud that is adjustable, like a butane gas burner, or a real Fondue heater and stand.
  • Wooden spoon

Instructions: Cut one or two of the garlic cloves in half, rub them around the entire inside of the caquelon (helps ensure the cheese does not stick to the pan & adds flavor).

Create a slurry of kirsch or lemon juice and corn starch. Set aside.

Add garlic, cheeses and wine into the pan over medium heat. Immediately start stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon and from this instant on never stop stirring! The trick: stir in a figure-eight pattern. You might turn the heat up a little, but never too high. A Fondue requires patience.

Once the cheese starts melting, turn heat to low. When cheese has melted add the slurry mixture drop by drop while stirring. If using kirsch, add in the few squeezes of lemon juice, continue stirring. Add the pepper, to taste.

Transfer pot to the rechaud and immediately start eating. Enjoy!

**What cheeses to choose.

An ideal mix also is 1/3 each Guryère, Vacherin Fribourgeois and some kind of Alp- or Mountain cheese. Do NOT use Emmentaler as it gets too stringy with heated and does not melt evenly.

What to dunk in it.

Purists use bread and only bread. Baguettes are ideal, and the pieces can simply be torn from the loaf. Choose any firm bread with a good crust and cut it into bite sized cubes before cooking the Fondue.

Other options include boiled potatoes, raw crunchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots, peppers, etc. Or fruits like apples, pears, grapes, etc.

What to drink with it.

A classic Fondue pairing is a dry white wine for those who drink alcohol, or hot black tea for those who want to avoid it.

For fun, pour a small glass of kirsch for each and enjoy like a shot about halfway through the Fondue. It’s said to help digestion.

What rules to follow.

  • Use a wooden spoon. Don’t just use any spoon to cook your Fondue: A wooden spoon is key for a good result.
  • Stir constantly: The moment you start heating, also start stirring. Do not stop until the Fondue goes onto the table and you let your fellow eaters do some of the work.
  • Stir in a figure-eight motion.It might be superstition or not, but always stir in an infinity loop, like the shape of the number eight. Only exception would be a Swiss cross shape.
  • Don’t drop the bread. Whoever drops a piece of bread in the cheese pays the next bottle of wine. Same with the garlic cloves.
  • Learn to say the word figugegl. It is short for “Fondue isch guet und git e gueti Luune,” which is Swiss for, “Fondue tastes good and sets you in a good mood.” It surely will make a conversation starter right away.

It’s good ’til the last drop. Or crust, rather.

Once almost all the cheese is gone, a nice, slightly burned crust usually forms from the middle of the caquelon bottom (especially in a caquelon that has been used a few times). There are two ways to enjoy this crust: Either it is just picked out bit by bit with the fork. Or you crack an egg on top of it and share an excellently cheesey egg, sunny-side up.

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