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Cheese Fondue

February 9, 2011

I have often mentioned my love affair with all things cheese, so it’s probably not surprising that my ideal romantic dinner would involve cheese fondue.  Dipping bread in melted, alcohol infused cheese: could it get any more delicious?  Plus it’s such a fun experience that it makes the extra effort worth while.  I even prefer cheese fondue over chocolate fondue.  Crazy I know! 

The particular recipe I am sharing today is fairly straight forward and is the perfect place to start if you are new to the fondue world.  Eventually you can try mixing in various types of cheese (2 or more seem to produce the greatest flavor), as well as working in other ingredients: onions, mushrooms, etc. 

As far as dippers, my favorites include green apples, broccoli, carrots, and bread of course, but the possibilities are truly endless.

Cheese Fondue

4 ounces Sharp Cheddar cheese (shredded)
4 ounces Swiss cheese (shredded)
1/2 12-ounce bottle Beer
1 tablespoon All purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Pepper
1 Garlic clove (halved lengthwise)
1 dash Tabasco sauce

1. Rub inside of a 4-quart heavy pot with cut sides of garlic, then discard garlic. Add beer to pot and bring just to a simmer over moderate heat.
2. Gradually add cheese to pot and cook, stirring constantly in a zigzag pattern (not a circular motion) to prevent cheese from balling up, until cheese is just melted and creamy (do not let boil). Stir flour into fondue. Bring fondue to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, 5 to 8 minutes.
3. Season with salt, pepper, and Tabasco.
4. Transfer to fondue pot set over a flame and serve with bread for dipping. 

Kate’s Tips

This recipe is scaled to two generous portions, but can be easily adjusted if you are cooking for a crowd.  As I said, it is fun to experiment with different types of cheese as you become a fondue pro.  Also, you can substitute a dry white wine in the same proportion as the beer if you prefer.  Whether you choose beer or wine, be sure to pick one you would want to drink as it is really infused in the flavor.

Be exact with the amount of alcohol you use in the recipe.  Adding too much liquid will create a fondue that is too runny and doesn’t thicken as it should.  Also, keep the stove warm enough when you add the cheese otherwise it will not melt properly and will have a tendency to ball up.  Continue to stir in a zig zag pattern to help avoid this problem.  If it seems as if the mixture still is not thickening up as it should, it may be necessary to add more cheese AFTER you’ve incorporated the flour.  If you have the opposite problem and end up with a mixture that is too thick, slowly stir in additional alcohol to create the desired consistency.  This can be a tricky process, but it is worth the effort!  I wish I could be in your kitchen to help you the first time!

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