Authentic Swiss Fondue

Sound yummy???

Well, actually it turned out to be really delicious, but on the particular batch you will see pictured in this blog, I learned an important lesson that I will pass along to you, so that you can make a really delicious, authentically Swiss fondue, and avoid the whole unpleasant rubber cement issue.

This post had its beginnings 28 years ago when I lived in Switzerland, where I was attending the University of Lausanne studying French, and serving as a missionary apprentice. My two roommates (Donna and Val) and I were working for a Ukrainian missionary who did short wave radio broadcasts preaching the gospel to the people of Ukraine (which at that time was still what we used to call behind the Iron Curtain). The missionary also pastored a French speaking congregation there in Lausanne, Switzerland, and so we came to serve him and his family and the congregation there.

As you can imagine, living in Switzerland for a couple of years is not exactly serving the underprivileged, and we LOVED having the opportunity to live there. Donna and Val became like sisters to me, and even now, when we get together every few years or so, we fall back into the same easy, loving friendship. Here’s a picture of the three of us, gathered around the old fondue pot in my purple kitchen in the Boonies, with the additional estrogen of the Boonie Baby thrown into the evening’s mix (but not thrown into the fondue pot, because that would make for some kinda weird potent fondue).

While living in Switzerland, we did a bit of first hand research into how to make a really great fondue. One thing Donna and Val learned on their first trial run, before I arrived, was that if you don’t have white wine, you really can’t substitute red wine in your fondue recipe, or you will have pink fondue. Which might be kind of fun for a winter baby shower where you know the sex of the baby, but really, apart from that, it’s probably not an innovation on the recipe that is much in demand.

The next thing we learned is that every region in Switzerland has its own special fondue recipe variation, and of course, each region believes that theirs is the MOST delicious, but the recipe I’ll offer you is fairly standard, and is a guaranteed winner. That is, if you avoid the mistake that I made the night these pictures were taken.

More about that in a few moments.

You will notice that kirsch is a listed ingredient. It is also called kirschwasser, and is a clear, cherry brandy. It really is available in most any liquor store here in the States if you just ask. I know this, because I can find it in the liquor store here in the Boonies, so, if they have it here, I figure it must be available just about anywhere else in the US. For international readers? Well – I don’t know what you gals in Laos and Saudi Arabia are gonna do, especially when it comes to procuring kirsch, Gruyère, and Emmenthaler. I am wishing you all the best, however, and be sure to let me know of your angst, and I’ll dip a chunk of bread in the hot melty stuff in your honor next time I make a batch.

Find some good Swiss cheeses. You will need a Swiss Gruyère and an Emmenthaler. There just is no compromising on the cheeses. I tried some American Emmenthaler from Trader Joe’s two times ago when I made a fondue, and it was wrong – it was just wrong. There can be no further discussion of this point as far as I am concerned. I can generally find my Gruyère at Costco, and my Emmenthaler at Kroger.

This is a perfect recipe for a cold winter’s night, which is why I am telling you about it in January, so that all you northern hemisphere dwellers can do something about trying it now. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, well, you’re just way ahead of the curve. And if you live in the tropics, I’m very sorry, because I doubt this recipe will sound nearly so appealing to you. The Swiss serve it in the summertime in restaurants, but that’s how they know for sure they have a real tourista among them. But they’re very polite, and will gladly take your Euros all the same. When Donna and Val came to visit me in June, we had a fondue, and it was lovely, so feel free to ignore the Swiss prejudice, and serve it any time you darn well please.

Without further ado, then, here is my recipe for a lovely, non-rubber cement-like fondue.

Traditional Cheese Fondue

1 garlic clove, halved and smashed
2/3 c. dry white wine
1 t. fresh lemon juice
10 oz. Emmenthaler cheese, grated
10 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
1 T. cornstarch
3 T. kirsch
Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb. loaf French bread, cubed

Rub the inside of a 4 qt. saucepan with the smashed garlic clove halves, and then rub the inside of your fondue dish as well. Discard the garlic. (chunks of uncooked garlic are not tasty in a fondue) Pour the wine and the lemon juice into the saucepan, set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Gradually add the cheeses, stirring in a figure-eight motion until the cheeses are combined., 3 or 4 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and kirsch until blended. As soon as the cheese mixture begins to bubble, add the cornstarch mixture. Continue to cook gently, 2 to 3 minutes more, then stir in the white pepper and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low and keep the fondue warm, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, assemble the fondue pot, add the cheese fondue to the pot and keep warm according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve with bread cubes and individually marked fondue forks for dipping.

This recipe barely feeds my family of four, and leaves them whining for more, because they can be somewhat gluttonous when the food is good.

*****HOW TO AVOID RUBBER CEMENT FONDUE*****

Be sure before you transfer the melted cheese mixture to the fondue pot that the cheese is not just barely melted, but is GOOD and HOT. You don’t want it so hot that it separates and breaks down that way, but if it is only barely melted, it will be so thick you will believe from its texture that it IS rubber cement. And you will need to find a pair of scissors to detach the bread cubes from the glutinous mass of cheese in the fondue pot. It is good for quite a few belly laughs, but not nearly so appetizing. If perchance, despite my warning, this DOES happen to you, as the fondue heats up over the fondue pot’s burner, it will eventually relax, and still be just as delicious. Don’t ask me how I know. Just accept this for the truth that it is.


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Comments

  1. I'm glad you clarified about the kirsch, because that is what the equivalent of pennies are called here, and that doesn't sound nearly as appetizing.I also appreciate your sympathy for those of us in dry areas of the world without access to certain varieties of cheese. I'll take you up on your offer: have some for me, okay?I wonder if they'll agree to arrange the entire BFM menu around my cravings for things I can't normally get…

  2. Here is what I would do in regard to the BFM menu, in case you haven't already done this on their private group, and I am not kidding.I would make a list of my top 5 most craved for things I can likely find easily in TX. Then, I would begin mentioning them on that group. Advertise. These are a bunch of compassionate, fun loving women. You might be surprised at how many of your longings actually get fulfilled if you just put them out there. (Unless you already have – and if you have – ignore this advice.)Last year Robin and I started talking about In and Out burgers before the event, and that dream became a reality. So did fish tacos, because I mentioned I was longing for some of those. Wishing you the time of your life!

  3. There really should be a warning at the top of this post. I haven't had breakfast yet, and I'm getting really hungry. Unfortunately, the bacon, hash browns, and fried eggs that I had planned don't sound appetizing at all any more.I agree that cheese fondue should be added to the BFM menu. I don't think I can wait that long, though!

  4. Well, then can I have the bacon, hash browns and fried eggs? Please?

  5. I might just do that. Sarah/Sparkler's already bringing me pecans and yarn, two of my loves, so I'm off to a good start. :-)Although I might press for Bluebell dessert buffet one night…

  6. If it's not on the menu, find someone who will have a car, and organize a Bluebell buying expedition and a Bluebell in your hotel room party.Make it fun!

  7. Well, if you insist…

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