Fondue is one of those widely known and enjoyed dishes that are scrumptious and simple at the same time. The original fondue is made with cheese. Although “fondue” is derived from the French word fondre which means “to melt”, it is considered a Swiss national dish. The invention of fondue was more of a necessity, than of a gourmet whim. In the winters of the 18th century it was difficult to supply foods to the Alpine villages. So the local people heated wines and melted aged cheeses in the deep pots, added some garlic or herbs and dipped the pieces of stale bread into the hot thick mix. Since then it has turned to a warm and cozy Swiss tradition recognized as fondue.
So, what cheese do you use for fondue? While this is a Swiss dish, most Swiss cheeses containing little moisture will work well. Usually two and more cheeses are mixed together. Here there are some of the most commonly combined:
Nevertheless, other cheeses, like British Cheddar and Italian Fontina, can successfully substitute the Swiss ones. By the way, there is an Italian dish called fonduta which is similar to the classic fondue. So, if one day you ask yourself “what is Fontina cheese for in my fridge”, remember to search for this Italian recipe.
The first step is to choose a good firm cheese for fondue, as it is the cornerstone of the dish. The other basic ingredient is wine. The acid contained in wine prevents the melting cheese from balling up. Dry whites, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, are recommended. But if you do not want alcohol in your fondue, some recipes substitute wine for milk as a base and lemon juice to add some acid. A thickener like flour or cornstarch, dissolved in kirsch or water beforehand, should be tossed with shredded cheese. For cheese to melt better, add it slowly, in handfuls to the heating liquid, stirring constantly. Add pepper or nutmeg to your taste. A fondue pot can be rubbed with a garlic clove to make the dish more pungent. Traditionally, fondue is served with cubed bread, but the dipping choices can actually be limited only by your preferences. Lightly fried or steamed vegetables, mushrooms, ham or even apples and pears will also shine well. The most appropriate beverages are white wines, kirsch or herbal tea.