How to make an Authentic Swiss Fondue

Last month our very authentic Swiss friends invited us for a very authentic Swiss fondue. This is not the “uncultured box brand” this is the real thing. I am sharing the recipe because I want to clarify any misnomers that Monterrey jack and cheddar are acceptable substitutions. My Swiss fondue miester (fondue boss) says that there can be no deviation in the recipe and that it is critical to use Swiss wine and Swiss cheese.

  1. Sparticus was assigned to cut the bread. The Fondue Miester says this is the most important job and that it is wise to always ask the guest to do it- here’s why. The cheese is the expensive part of the meal and if you cut the bread in big chunks then less cheese is used to coat it- there fore the host will look like a miser- or a cheap skate. If the bread is cut too small than the host looks like a show off. You see  there is a fine line to walk.

dave cuts bread

IMG_9310Our fondue Miester is pictures on the left. He put me to work grating cheese, measuring wine and listening carefully to the origins of the finest fondue products.

IMG_9320First combined the wine, cornstarch and spices and bring the pot to the stove for the melting. Once the cheese has been added the next step is easy but important. This assignement is likend to making rissoto- you must stir and stir with our distraction. There should be no scorched fondue! IMG_9325

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IMG_9332I stired and stired until it was creamy and then removed from heat and added the baking soda and stirred some more. We then poured in an ounce of kirsch cherry liquior. The liquor is supposed to make it more digestable and the alcohol is supposed to burn off. I have tried a few recipes and have choked on the taste of alcohol that ruins the fondue for me. A real fondue is not supposed to taste like that!!!

IMG_9337Our Fondue Mister says that if you can find vintage fondue plates like his, it will make your fondue taste better- I say any excuse to rummage through Brocantes and antique markets sounds like a good one to me!

vintage fondue plateson left:  Jean De la Fontaine – It cannot translate litteraly but the equivalent expression in English is “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.

on right: “Nothing is better than a good fondue and a good glass of wine”. For the Swiss this bit of wisdom must rank equal to Jean De la Fontaine’s.

On a side note- unlike some of our favorite American cheese, Swiss cheeses do not seem to “melt” into a sauce by simply adding heat or milk. If you have ever tried you will have a big hard ball of white “cheese” sitting in a slightly orange pool of oil. It’s strange. The addition of an acidic liquid (wine) breaks the cheese down. I have seen recipes that allow for substitutions of apple cider- I have used a clarified cider from here that was not sweet- it seemed to work but it would not have been acceptable to our fondue mister!

Fondue recipe:
You will need 200 grams of cheese per person. This recipe is made to serve four.
800 grams of cheese –
1/3 Gruyere
1/3 Vacherin
1/3 Appenzeller
*if you live in Switzerland you can get this mix at migro pre-grated and premeasured!
 
  • 2 pieces of garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups (3.2 dl)  dry white wine (the Fondue Mister says Chasselas is the best but if you can only get french chardonay than it will be sufficient- He also says the wine is more important than the cheese, and that american white wine is to aeromatic).
  • a little nutmeg
  • pepper
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • baking soda ( a messerspsitze- which means the tip of a knife- good luck , it should be about a 1/4 teaspoon to the best of my estimations)
  • 1 oz. Kirsch
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
Mix the wine, lemon juice and crushed garlic with a pinch (to taste) of grated nutmeg, pepper and a 4 teaspoons of cornstarch. Stir these together and heat them until cornstarch is disolved on the stove but do not let it come to a boil. Add cheese to mixture and stir, stir, stir until smooth, finally just before serving add the knife tip of baking soda- this will cause it to foam ever-so-slightly as you stir it together. Adding the baking soda makes the mixture lighter. Finally add in the Kirsch, stir well and start dipping.

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