I grew up in the 70’s + 80’s. When I think back to the fads in food during those decades, I will always think of fondue and smile.
What’s not to love about hot melted cheese? Large chunks of toasted bread, the occasional vegetable and fruit.
These days, I have added a twist of tiny hand rolled meatballs to the dipping party for a bit more protein. The unexpected pairing has provided me with the title of mad scientist from a handful of friends.
Oddly, our neighbors now are from Switzerland and have shared their family recipe with us. Fondue is a fantastic food made for sharing and prompts great conversation and joy any time of year, especially over the holiday season.
You’ll find a couple of recipes below that are quite approachable. The key is to utilize the highest quality ingredients you can source.
If you do not have a fondue pot, don’t worry! Molten hot cheese will stay fluid for quite a while. You can gently warm it up as needed throughout your dinner party. I use a simple Le Creuset pot myself.
On that note, my favorite time to enjoy fondue has become brunch time during Hanukkah, Christmas, or New Years Day. Have fun setting things up! Get creative with a large platter of veggies, crusty sourdough with lots of seeds or nuts baked in. Think of it as a combination of a charcuterie board and crudite with a variety of artisan bread. Having bright colorful options is sure to encourage everyone to try different things.
Let’s see what Stephanie has to say about this tasty treat!
Living In France, I have a fondness for good cheese too. Not all are created equal, and I’d recommend spending a little extra to make sure you have a good one. Swiss Gruyere and Emmanthaler are types you can find in US markets and worth the splurge. Nutritionally, I’m an advocate for cheese because it is a good source of fat and protein and also has calcium, which isn’t as bioavailable in a lot of foods. The pairing of cheese with bread, vegetables, and protein also makes it a pretty well rounded meal in terms of macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, protein).
Cheese can be tough to think about incorporating for some individuals. Especially melted cheese. I think there is a perception that cheese, because it’s high in fat and is from dairy, should be avoided. This goes back to the 90s (probably) when everything was low fat and it was advised to limit cheese to lower the energy density of the meal. The fat and protein in cheese, though, are part of its superpower. They increase satiety and keep you feeling full much longer. For all the reasons mentioned above, I think cheese is a great food to enjoy. And for melted cheese- it’s no different than solid cheese. I think the fear comes from the quantity of cheese when it’s in the melted form. With fondue you are in control of how much you eat. And metabolically there is no difference between the two.
Now, let’s talk about what to serve with your melted cheese amazingness. I think this is a great opportunity to have a mixture of fresh, roasted, boiled vegetables along with the traditional bread for dipping. It’s almost like a reverse warm cheese salad, dip the “salad” in the cheese (although I’d skip the lettuce). Vegetables like cherry tomatoes, brussel sprouts, squash, potatoes, radishes, cucumbers, etc. For protein, think chicken, tofu, tempeh, and meatballs. As with many of our recipes, the sky’s the limit!
OG Swiss Fondue
1 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream or cream alternative
2 garlic cloves minced
1 T flour or gf flour
2 tsp dry or Dijon mustard
Pinch of nutmeg if you have it
½ tsp dried turmeric
8 oz gruyere cheese grated
8 oz Emmenthal, Jarlsberg or Gouda cheese grated
2 T whiskey, cherry liquor, or brandy *If omitted, use chicken or vegetable stock. Even tap water will do in a pinch.
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
Heat the wine, cream, garlic, flour, turmeric, mustard and nutmeg in a large pot over low heat. When the mixture begins to boil, turn down the heat to a simmer for roughly five minutes. You will see it thicken slightly.
Stir in the cheese and liquor, and season with salt and pepper. Continue heating on low and stirring frequently to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pot. When the cheese has melted, and the mixture is thick and creamy, it is ready to serve.
Carefully dip raw or roasted veggies, raw apples, grapes, and bite sized pieces of great crusty bread. Meatballs, tofu, chicken, and other proteins are fun additions as well.