Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Say cheese ... fondue that is!

Cheese fondue is becoming standard fare on Sunday nights at our house. Not the sophisticated fondue with Gruyere, Emmenthaler, and wine but a more down-to-earth mix of beer and cheddar served with some good sourdough bread. But first things first, let's get to the ingredients, most of which are pictured above:

  • loaf of sourdough bread
  • 1 lb. extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 16oz. bottle of beer
  • 2 t dry mustard
  • dash cayenne pepper
Now we're pretty particular about our fondue ingredients. The cheddar cheese has to be from Cabot (Extra Sharp, Private Stock, Vintage, Hunters, or the yet-to-try Old School) which is grated and tossed with the cornstarch. The bread has to be sourdough (and preferably from a California starter), the mustard must be Coleman's, and the garlic must be fresh. In a perfect world, the beer would be Red Stripe (which lends a nice spice) or Guinness but Yuengling was on sale and worked fine. I'm not picky about the brand of cayenne.

Ideally you'd have a nice loaf of sourdough but all we could find Sunday night was a square. It worked out okay but you end up with a bunch of pieces without any crust on them. We like our bread lightly toasted which gives it a nice little crunch so we put it on a cookie sheet and throw it into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes while the cheese melts.

Since the 70s are long over, maybe everyone doesn't have a fondue pot anymore. We actually have two and we couldn't use either one. The Oster model is one we've had forever but the nonstick coating on the bottom was destroyed by over-zealous french students. polMom found a replacement pot on eBay so we're waiting for that to show up. The other newer unit that we have is missing its power cord so we used the pot on the right whose inside surface has been rubbed thoroughly with a smashed clove of garlic.

Pour the bottle of beer into the pot and stir in the mustard and cayenne pepper. Heat the beer mixture over medium heat until it is just beginning to simmer. Then add the grated, cornstarch-dusted cheese to the pot and stir until the cheese melts and becomes thoroughly incorporated with the beer mixture.

Keep stirring the mixture gently until the cheese mixture is smooth. Eventually the cornstarch will cause the sauce to thicken. The cheese mixture is ready whenever you feel it is thick enough to hold to your bread after it is dunked in the cheese. We use fondue forks but regular forks would probably work just as well. We keep the meal pretty simple by accompanying the fondue with a vegetable tray, grapes, and sliced apples.

1 comment:

SteamyKitchen said...

yes, great minds do think alike!