Help Me Make The Best Cheese Fondue I Can Make
August 8, 2008 11:02 AM   Subscribe

What's your secret for a delicious cheese fondue?

I've made a few fondues at home in my crock pot, and I'm ready to take my fondue skills to the next level. Fondue lovers, please share your secrets. Is it the cheese? The liquid? The spices? Something else?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
With a classic Swiss fondue, the kirsch is a must. Cheese roughly shredded works better than very finely grated cheese, I think. And always toss with flour before adding it to the pot to help the fondue stay together.

Some of the full-on blue cheese fondues are disgusting (a pot of hot, greasy feet) but a little bit of good blue can add a lot of complexity (astringency, mostly) to a lot of basic fondues.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:26 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

really good emmenthaler, really good savingon blanc. Pinch od freshly crushed mustard seeds, pinch of fresh dill. That's the best i've had.
posted by French Fry at 11:37 AM on August 8, 2008

When I make fondue I always rub the pot with a whole clove of garlic or two before adding the ingredients and heating. It gets the essential oils of the garlic into the fondue without risk of burning and adds depth of flavour to what can sometimes taste like cheese and nothing esle (not that that's not necessarily a BAD thing...)
posted by elkerette at 11:46 AM on August 8, 2008

Check out this "Good Eats" transcript.
posted by PFL at 11:53 AM on August 8, 2008

The secret is adding one strongly flavored cheese (like a blue), mustard powder, and nutmeg.
posted by rmless at 12:01 PM on August 8, 2008

I think a combination of Emmentaler and Gruyere gives the best classic fondue result - the softer, creamier Emmentaler and the mature, nutty sharpness of Gruyere result in the best texture/flavor combination. Kirsch is a must for traditionalists, but I'm okay with good dry white wine that compliments the cheese. Throw in some Appenzeller or Tete de Moine if you want things even sharper, or up the Emmentaler proportion if you want to stay on the mild side. If you get bored of Gruyere, try experimenting with its friends Comte or Beaufort.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:05 PM on August 8, 2008

*complements,* argh!
posted by jocelmeow at 12:06 PM on August 8, 2008

Sweet to offset the saltiness. I like carmelized shallots like in this recipe. And a million yeses to nutmeg.

And for the ultimate in advice that everyone already knows: use a wine you would actually drink.
posted by giraffe at 12:14 PM on August 8, 2008

For starters, maybe you've seen this MetaChat thread. It makes me hungry.

A Swiss friend of mine who's strikingly opinionated about fondue advises insists on using 50% Gruyere and either 30% Vacherin and 20% Appenzeller or 50% Vacherin, leaving the Emmenthaler out completely. (When my local cheese shop is low on choices, I make it with Gruyere and Emmenthaler, 50/50, and it's pretty darned good.)

He also insists that the best fondue includes a generous scoop of mascarpone. That's how he made it for me, and that's how I've made it ever since. It does provide a creamy smoothness that can't be beat.

I always add a generous amount of freshly grated nutmeg, as well as a shotglass of kirsch in addition to white wine. (I prefer a sauvignon blanc.) M. Swiss blenched when I suggested chili powder or cayenne, but I always add a dash anyway for a tiny zing.

I don't know if this is useful for you, TPS, but for me, the best way to transform fondue from good to spectacular lies in the accompaniments. When we have fondue (now a holiday tradition for my family), I make not only a loaf of light bread and a loaf of dark bread to serve in chunks, but also a platter fruits and a platter of vegetables to dunk in the fondue:
- roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower (I tried roasted onions, but they were too slippery --- the cheese slid right off)
- blanched brocolli, asparagus, and green beans
- halved cherry tomatoes or whole grape tomatoes
- chunked apples or pears, dressed with a little lemon to keep them fresh
- a big bunch of grapes

In your crockpot, you say? Aha. Never thought of that!
posted by Elsa at 12:37 PM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

'nthing Kirsch. My parents got the recipe on their honeymoon almost 40 years ago and they must have made 10,000 copies of it. It sounds crazy, but it's the solid gold secret.
posted by GilloD at 12:39 PM on August 8, 2008

If you do go with the Kirsch (or any other alcohol), start with a small amount and taste along the way if you want to add more. I once followed a fondue recipe from a 60s cookbook to the letter and the taste of alcohol in the fondue was so overpowering that nobody would eat it.
posted by Otis at 12:49 PM on August 8, 2008

I use cornstarch instead of the flour suggested above - a good idea is to grate your cheese, then toss with the cornstarch, instead of adding a slurry to the liquid.

The acid in the wine helps cut the proteins in the cheese (so you don't get a huge ball). To help this along, use a drier wine, or add a *little* lemon juice. I've heard that stirring in a figure-8 will also help prevent the dreaded ball-o-cheese-in-liquid.

Nutmeg: yes.

Buy Fondues from Around the World for about $11. It's got some really good info about technique, and tons of great recipes (some are visible in the amazon 'look inside' excerpt).
posted by CaptApollo at 1:10 PM on August 8, 2008

I just saw that Good Eats last night. Key points: rub the pot with garlic, substitute hard cider for wine, sprinkle the cheese with cornstarch before putting it in the pot (he says the usual flour step here tastes funny to him), and melt the cheese slowly or it will break. Growing up, my parents rocked the 1970's orange crockpot and we always had french bread chunks, mushrooms, and apple chunks. I tried chicken once but it didn't really work. It got overpowered.
posted by Askr at 1:27 PM on August 8, 2008

posted by plinth at 1:34 PM on August 8, 2008

sharp cheddar and beer. seriously.
posted by UnclePlayground at 2:31 PM on August 8, 2008

Potato starch instead of flour. Nthing kirsch. I also like a little fresh ground nutmeg.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:53 PM on August 8, 2008

b - e - e - r.
posted by brain cloud at 6:18 PM on August 8, 2008

I love fondue! I haven't had the best of luck making it at home myself, though. But some tips I have heard from experts. OK, a guy who worked at The Melting Pot, but still...
- A pinch of flour will help the cheese hold together, and not "break".
- Liquid first, then add the cheese slowly, stirring (in a kind of lifting motion) with a fork. NOT a spoon.

In my experience, white wine works well with swiss, gruyere, ementhaler, etc. But beer (as others have said) works great with cheddar.

Nth-ing nutmeg. And a "rub" of garlic.

In a weird coincidence, right before I came to Metafilter just now, I was scrolling through my bookmarks, and saw the "Fondue" folder. I thought, I should check those out. Nah, maybe later. The I came here and saw your question, and thought, great! I'll have some links to add. Nope all dead. Grrr...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:00 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

- 1/2 bottle of Light beer (I personally prefer Bud Light for this)
- 16 oz Sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 oz Emmentaler swiss
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon(-ish) dried mustard powder
- 2 tablespoons(-ish) worcestershire sauce

Shred the cheese (don't buy the pre-shredded stuff -- it tends to turn oily in the pot), and toss with flour to keep it from breaking in the pot. A food processor makes this job quick and painless.

Pour the beer in the pot, and bring to a boil. Add the garlic and dried mustard.

Add a small handful of cheese and stir until it melts. Keep doing this until about half the cheese is in the pot, then add half of the remaining cheese. Once that is all melted, add the rest of the cheese.

Add the worcestershire sauce, and stir.

One of the absolute best things to dip in this cheese mix is really tart granny smith apple. I know, it sounds gross -- but just try it.
posted by jknecht at 7:19 PM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

Chedder cheese, Swiss Cheese, 3 cloves of minced garlic, a tiny bit of olive oil, a chunk of butter, dates, a splash of white wine and a splash of sherry. BEST FONDUE EVER.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 4:51 AM on August 14, 2008

This is one of the most delicious recipes ever. Try it, you won't be disappointed!

Gruyère Fondue

3 cups light cream
7 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 1/4 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
3/4 cup white wine (more or less depending on taste)

In a medium bowl, combine cream, flour, and Worcestershire sauce, and set aside.
In a large heavy saucepan, sauté onion in butter with bouillon cubes over high heat, stirring until cubes are completely dissolved.
Reduce heat to medium. Add cream mixture, whisking constantly until thickened.
Gradually add cheeses, and stir until melted and smooth. Mixture will become very thick.
Add wine a little at a time and mix well. Wine tends to thin out mixture, so add as much as needed to reach desired consistency and flavor.
Transfer the fondue to a heated fondue pot and keep warm over low heat.
posted by lkm23 at 3:42 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

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