Friday, December 30, 2016

Holiday Fondue, it's a Retro-Family thing

Fondue, it's a very Winter Holiday, Ski Lodge, Group Meal kinda thing. I think when we think of fondue generally nowadays it's got a sort of "Retro" feel to it. 

It's a dish I first really experienced at the homes of family friends while growing up. It was one of those dishes that people would make for open house parties in the 70's and 80's when large groups of friends from work or the neighborhood would pass by for a drink, a nosh, and a chat.  Fondue was simple because it could be prepared and then placed in a big fondue pot or crock pot and left warming for guests to help themselves. As a kid I loved it because it was unlimited melted cheese goodness on crusty bread cubes. I mean what's better?

My first experience with real Swiss Fondue as an adult came through the invitation to dinner at a Swiss family's house in the town where I was working. The wonderful thing about Fondue in Switzerland is has none of the intimate romantic notions that surround it here in the US. Somehow,  here in the states fondue and fondue restaurants created the cache for Fondue as a "lovers mealtime". It was proffered in restaurants and nightclubs as  a sexy way for two people to share a meal. 

Not so in the land where cheese was born. It is a communal meal meant for simply for sharing and creating yummy convivial times with family and friends. The rules traditionally are simple, if the lady drops the bread in she had to wash the pot which she used to prepared the fondue, if the gentleman drops the bread in he has to wash the pot and kiss the lady! Kinda fun and I guess somewhat romantic but when it's a family around the table it's just fun good eats and if Mama doesn't have to do dishes and gets a kiss out of it so much the better.

So Fondue, is according to Wikipedia SwissFrench, and Italian dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot (caquelon) over a portable stove (réchaud), and eaten by dipping long-stemmed forks with bread into the cheese. It was promoted as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) in the 1930s but its origins stem from an area that covers Switzerland, France (Rhone Alps) and Italy (Piedmont and Aosta valley).

Since the 1950s, the name "fondue" has been generalized to other dishes in which a food is dipped into a communal pot of hot liquid: chocolate fondue, in which pieces of fruit are dipped into a melted chocolate mixture, and fondue bourguignonne, in which pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil.
Konrad Egli of the Chalet Swiss Restaurant is credited with introducing it as a mainstay in New York in the 1950's. He also is credited with the introduction of beef Fondue at Chalet Swiss and the  invention of chocolate Fondue which made it's appearance in the 1960's. 

Throughout the 50's 60's and 70's home cooks entertained with Fondue pots and other cookware that could make them the champions of table side cooking for their dining guests. Such meals like the famous "Steak Diane" made the guests feel like they were part of the "action" and certainly Fondue was one of those meals. 

So here is a simple Swiss recipe I have from my host family in Switzerland I have carried around all these years. As you entertain this holiday season think about Fondue as a wonderful way to share a meal with friends and loved ones. 

Easy and Authentic Swiss Fondue (serves 2 to 4)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Emmentaler cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) Gruyère cheese
  • 4 triangles double cream (laughing cow) cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cherry brandy (Kirsch)
  • Cubed French bread, ham and vegetables 

  1. Rub garlic clove into the inside of the fondue pot. Bring wine and lemon juice to a low boil in a heavy saucepan; add cheeses, pepper, and nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese melts.
  2. Whisk together cornstarch and cherry brandy. Stir mixture into cheese; cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes or until thickened. Transfer to a fondue pot, and keep warm. Serve with cubed bread, cubed ham, raw mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and steamed brussel sprout halves.
  3. Enjoy Ya'll!!

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