The other night we gathered nine friends together for fondue. Hosted at the home of Jessica Martin Marinello, the evening was stellar not only for the unique group of gals (guests hailed from Belgium, France, Spain and all over the United States) but most especially for fantastic food and generous flutes of champagne.
Liz Saucier, an amazing photographer , owner of her own studio in fact, helped make the cheese fondue with a combination of an AOC 1 year gruyere found at Tastings Gourmet Market and a fresh appenzeller found at Wegman’s. I had searched for vacherin and emmethaler to no avail. According to Stacey Adams, fromeger at Tastings, vacherin is quite expensive so imports are difficult to source. And emmenthaler is seasonal, so sometimes it is difficult to find as well. Funny enough, just today I did find emmenthaler at Whole Foods Market, but that was far after the fact….. I purchased a bottle of dry white wine at Wine Cellars of Annapolis which was excellent–both for cooking, and more importantly, for drinking!
- 1 cup or more crisp, dry white wine
- 2 large cloves of crushed garlic, or finely minced
- 2 TS cornstarch
- 1 ½ lbs grated or cubed gruyere cheese
- ¼ C kirsch (optional)
- Rub the pot vigorously with the crushed garlic. Some recipes instead add minced garlic to the cheese.
- In a bowl, mix the cornstarch into the cheese.
- In a pan over medium heat, heat the wine to simmering then add the cheese/cornstarch. Heat slowly stirring constantly until the cheese is melted and smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little wine. Add kirsch if using.
- You can do all this in a fondue pot with an adjustable temperature, or you can do it on the stove top and transfer to a fondue pot. Be sure to check the flame on the pot to maintain the texture of the cheese over the course of the meal.
Traditional fondue is served only with dense, country style bread cut into thick cubes. The bread should be a little dry, but not crispy. Some Americans like to dip cut vegetables. I think oven-baked French fries or tiny boiled new potatoes are especially delicious.
I prepared a fondue chinoise with a beef broth base and traditional herby tones that I thought would go well with fresh mushrooms and a dry aged steak purchased by Catherine Greene. It was a bitter cold evening and I thought a rich, smooth, meaty broth would be soothing and soulful… and a cointerpoint to the cheese.
Fondue Chinoise is like Chinese hot pot. Prepare a broth, then cook thin slices of tenderloin, chicken, mushrooms, steamed potatoes and other veggies in it. Remove the cooked food from the pot with your long fondue fork, then eat it with your home-made sauces. At the end, let each guest ladle a bit of the broth, now bolstered with the flavors of the meat and veggies, to drink.
- 8 cups beef stock
- 1 cup red wine
- 2-3 beef bones with marrow
- 2-3 Fresh thyme sprigs or 1 TB dried
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig or 1 TB dried
- 2-3 sprigs fresh parsley
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 5 black peppercorns
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 star anise (optional)
- 4-5 juniper berries (optional)
- ¼ c Worcestershire sauce or more to taste
- S & P to taste
- Combine the ingredients up to anise. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple hours while you prepare the sauces and desserts.
- Strain and defat.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce and season to taste.
- Bring back to a simmer, transfer to the fondue pot.
Jessica prepared the fondue bourguignonne using canola oil. She and Liz, as well as Valerie Toomey, who is from Lyon outside of Paris, brought a variety of sauces. Thankfully they sent me their recipes, because they were simply amazingly outstanding. We all know I have a picky palate and there was nothing I could say about the sauces other than brava!
You must use a copper, stainless steel or cast iron fondue pot for oil fondue. Ceramic versions may crack or be otherwise unsafe.
Heat peanut or canola oil in a pan or the fondue pot (you need enough oil to fill the fondue pot ½-2/3 full) to 350°. If heating on the stovetop, transfer to the fondue pot. Maintaining the heat, dip thinly sliced tenderloin, chicken or seafood such as shrimp, mushrooms or potatoes. Enjoy with the sauces.
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