Classic fondue (fondue neuchateloise)

Yield: 4 Servings

Measure Ingredient
1 pounds Switzerland Swiss cheese --
Diced
Or 1/2 Emmentaler and 1/2
Gruyere
3 tablespoons Flour
1 Garlic clove
2 cups Dry white wine -- Neutchatel
Rieselin
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
3 tablespoons Kirsch
Nutmet, pepper to taste
2 Italian bread loaf

Dredge the cheese lightly with the flour. Rub the cooking pot wiht garlic; pour in the wine; wet over moderate heat. When air bubbles rise to surface, add lemon juice. Then add the cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly with a wooden fork or spoon until the cheese is melting. Add the Kirsch and spices, sitrring until blended. Serve and keep bubbling hot over burner. Spear the bread cubes through the soft wide into the crust, dunk and swirl in the fondue. Local Variations: There are a number of different fondues in western Switzerland and their chief difference depends on the cheeses used. Very often, two varieties of the same cheese are used, i.e., a young cheese and a well-matured one. Fondue from Fribourg is different from the classic (recipe above) in as much as no wine or Kirsch is used int he dish. Hot water is substituted in their stead. Also in Fribourg, potatoes are sometimes used in lieu of bread. Fondue from Valais uses the local cheeses and hot milk to melt the cheese in. Fondue from Geneva sometimes has a handful of peeled, seeded and chopped fresh tomatoes added with the cheese. The chief thing to remember about a cheese fondue is that the cheese must cook over very low heat or it will become stringy. It must also be kept hot, but over low heat, so that it will not heat too much and become tough. Equipment: In Switzerland a fondue is made in a round metal or earthenware pot, but a heavy earthenware or cast-iron casserole will serve as long as it holdss the heat and is round in shape.

The pot (caquelon) is put in the middle of the table on a fondue-warmer, which may be a mild alcohol flame or an electric hot plate. Long handled forks are necessary to hold the bread. Cheeses: The choice of cheese if of the greatest importance. For a good fondue you must have a well-matured Swiss Cheese. American Swiss cheese is seldom, if ever, sufficently matured to make a proper fondue. It's worth buying a cheese marked with the red trademark SWITZERLAND. For the mildest fondue, use all Emmentaler cheese. For a medium fondue, use half Emmentaler and half Gruyere. If you like a stronger flavor, use two thirds Gruyere and one third Emmentaler.

The strongest fondue is made from well-matured Gruyere. Preparation of the cheese: Experience has proved that cheese cut into small dice melts better and more smoothly than grated cheese. The latter tends to form lumps when cooking. Wine: Choose a light, sparkling, slightly acid wine, preferably a Swiss Neuchatel. The acidity of the wine helps to liquify the cheese and to make the melted cheese homogenous. Wines with little acidity are not suited to a fondue. If you think that the wine is not sufficently acid, add a little lemon juice to help prevent formation of lumps. (One teaspoon of lemon juice for each 6-7 tablespoons--3½ liquid ounces) of wine will serve). Proportion of cheese and wine: Count on about 6-7 tablespoonss of wine for each 6 ounces of cheese. Since cheese, depending on its kind and age, absorbs liquids differently, you may have to adjust these quantities a little. Start with less wine rather than more--you can always add some.

How to cook the fondue: Rub the fondue pan with a cut garlic clove. Pour in the wine. Put the pan on low heat on the kitchen stove if the fondue is to be made in the kitchen and then taken to the warmer at the table or placed over the heat of a chafing dish. Warm the wine, but do not boil it. Dredge the cheese with the flour. Add the cheese gradually, stirring constantly, not clockwise but in the shape of a figure 8. Increase the heat to moderate. Keep on stirring and don't worry if the cheese does not thicken at once. Flavor with pepper and nutmeg to taste; most likely it will not need salt since the cheese is usually salty enough. Stir in a little Kirsch (or brandy, gin or whiskey) until smooth and creamy. (A pinch of baking soda will make a lighter fondue). Now bring the fondue to the table. Once the fondue has been made, it should be kept bubbling. Regulate the flame of the warmer so that the fondue keeps simmering while it is being eaten.

Toward the end of the meal, some of the melted cheese in the pot will form a brown crust at the bottom of the pot. At this stage, keep the heat as low as possible (earthenware may crack at this point). The crust can be lifted out with a fork and is considered a special treat. How to eat the fondue: It's important to dunk the bread in a stirring motion; this helps maintain proper consistency of the fondue. Care of the fondue: It is essential that the fondue keeps bubbling lightly at all times. This is done by regulating the heat, or by turning it off and on. If the fondue should become lumpy, or the liquid separate from the fat, the following should be tried: put the fondue back onto the stove, stir it thoroughly with a wire whisk and add ½ teaspoon constarch. It may also be diluted with up to ½ glass wine (warm first). This should bring it back to a creamy consistency. Fondue does turn lumpy despite the care you have taken. Chese that is not well matured tends to become lumpy and to form "threads." Both of these can be avoided by using more Gruyere cheese than Emmentaler in the mixture. If the fondue becomes too thick because of the continuous cooking and evaporation of the liquid, it can be thinned by adding some wine (warm first). Care of fondue eaters: Do not drink cold or iced drinks--including wine-- during fondue eating. Traditionally Kirsch is served in the "middle." Finish the meal with a cup of hot coffee or tea.

This is important. Drinking cold liquids will cause stomach aches.

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