08 March 2009

Fondu Savoyarde

One of my absolute favorite meals is cheese fondu, more particularly fondu savoyarde. Cheese fondu is one of the national foods of Switzerland but found also in Savoie and Franche-Comté (oh, and everywhere else of course, but those regions claim it for their own patrimoine).

According to Wikipedia (yes, I'm citing Wikipedia; the scholar in me doesn't want to, but hard to avoid these days), a dish of melted cheese, the ancestor of fondu if you will, even appears in Homer's Iliad. Though I have to say I don't quite remember that part amidst all the spears launched, arrows shot, people dragged around city walls and the like.

I used to have cheese fondu every year on my birthday, and I still try to have at least one fondu party in the year. For a while I was using a small, light, cherry red fondu pot that I got for $5 (stand and forks included, though some were missing) at a yard sale when I was in high school. I have many fond memories of that pot, notably lighting a bunch of candles under it during a winter blackout in college to boil water for tea, with all my housemates crammed into my smallest-room-in-the-house for body heat. Still, it's seen better days and when I moved this past spring and got a induction heat stove, for which the pot was not compatible, I decided it was a good excuse to get a new one. With a choice between black and red, it was an easy decision!

Traditionally fondu savoyarde is made with a combination of emmenthal, comté and beaufort cheeses. Beaufort is a rather strong cheese so I put less of it than the other two, but if you like your fondu stinky (and I admit that has a certain appeal), you could put equal amounts of each.

For 4 (hungry) people

1 garlic clove
3/4-1 bottle dry white wine
375g (13.2oz) emmenthal
375g (13.2oz) comté (or gruyère if you can't find comté)
150g (5.2oz) Beaufort
2 Tbsp flour or cornstarch
1/2 cup Grand Marnier (traditionally kirsch, but I'm a big fan of Grand Marnier and I think it works well)

French bread, cut into cubes
cubes of apples, slices of mushrooms and anything else you'd like to dip in

Take the rinds off the cheese and cut into slices.

Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the inside of the fondu pot with the cut sides. Pour the wine into the pot and bring to a boil. Add the cheese and stir constantly until the cheese is melted. Add a pinch of pepper and a pinch of nutmeg, to taste.

Whisk the flour or cornstarch into the Grand Marnier and add the mixture to the fondu. Stir another 5 minutes, until you obtain a smooth consistency. Bring the fondu pot to the table and keep warm over a flame while you enjoy!

Tip: Encourage your guests to stir the fondu all the way to the bottom as they dip to keep the cheese from congealing or sticking.

Tip 2: By all means, serve an aperitif and wine or beer with the meal, but don't forget you're drinking a whole bottle in the dish. You might get drunker than you think! (Er, speaking from experience? I have no idea what you mean...)


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Yes, Fondue is such a great speciality! This Haute Savoie version sounds really good!



D.K. said...

Well, I do know what you mean... ;-)

Ivy said...

Will you believe that I've never tried fondu before but it does sound goo.

Cicero Sings said...

I also, have never tried fondu. I just may have to give this a whirl ... I think someone gave me a small fondu part ... I'm sure it is somewhere in the house!

Sam said...

It's been years since I last had fondue. It's such fun to eat, we used to get forfeits if we dropped anything in it!

Hopie said...

Rosa - Indeed it is. I love this one.

D.K. - Now how would you know a thing like that?

Ivy - Fondu is so yummy! I love it too because it's convivial, very good food for a group of people because it's fun to eat.

Cicero - I hope you find your fondu pot so you can give it a whirl!

Sam - Yep, here they do forfeits too! When I was little you had to kiss the person next to you if you dropped it in!

Katharine said...

You're so right about that last warning! During our honeymoon - Lake Louise in December '82- your Dad and I went out to celebrate my birthday. The restaurant in Banff is still there:


We ordered champagne and their specialty, Swiss cheese fondue. Dinner was delightful and delectable. I wondered why the champagne had such a powerfully scintillating effect. Now I know...it had help! :) Love, Mom

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

Yummy yummy!
J'ADORE la fondue savoyarde surtout après une bonne journée de ski..:)

Joie de vivre said...

What a lovely idea to have a fondue party! I guess that's what fondue is for though huh!

Tony said...

Ren and I totally had fondue right before I went vegan for Lent as my goodbye-to-cheese event.

nathalie said...

Miam. Enjoy !

PS: oups, mon vocabulaire laisse un peu à désirer, mais le coeur y est... ^^

Psychgrad said...

I think fondue parties are the best. Interactive and yummy. I've only ever made chocolate fondue myself. I really should make a point of trying more savoury options.

Apples and Butter said...

I adore fondue! I keep meaning to pull out the pot and have a party. Thanks for the nudge!

Also, you left a comment on my beet gnochhi post and I am way late in responding. Sorry! The quantity I listed in the recipe is what the original recipe called for so I would recommend going crazy and adding more. I'm sure you've already found another use for your beets, so again, soory about the delay!

Hopie said...

Mom - hahaha! You crack me up. Drinking is FUN (and so is fondu apparently)! ;-)

Here, There... - Miam, oui !

Joie de vivre - Yep, I think fondu is a perfect way to bring people together.

Tony - That sounds perfect!

Nathalie - "Enjoy", c'est déjà pas mal comme vocabulaire à connaître ;-)

Psychgrad - I'm due for chocolate fondu. It's the only kind I haven't made yet in the new pot. Do you have a good recipe?

Apples - Go for it! Thanks, I actually DID try the gnocchi and I guessed that that was old measurement, so I added extra beets. I'll post about it if I ever have time ;-) You were right about puréeing though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips, my corporate dinner went swimmingly great wine also very crisp cudos!