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Dec 25, 2013 04:11 PM

Fondue help

My teenage son loves the melting pot, so for Christmas he asked for a fondue pot. We bought an electric cuisinart one, but because it was the floor model (don't wait until Christmas Eve to shop) if didn't come with a recipe book. He is a pretty unadventurous eater, so I was looking for an easy cheese recipe, or any other ideas. Cuisinart website was no help, so perhaps my fellow hounds can. Merry holidays to all.

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  1. This is the classic recipe. It can be reduced successfully to accommodate smaller groups.

    1. this one, from West Bend, which is pretty traditional:

      Do note the need for brandy/Kirsch -- here's the link to the original Good Eats episode where Alton Brown talks about the science behind making fondue (as opposed to a cheesy, gloppy mess):

      Transcript for that episode is here:

      (the recipe given in this episode is very good -- the wine-based version in the West Bend recipe is the favorite at hour house)

      6 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Thanks for the helpful links, Sunshine842. I note that Alton Brown's recipe calls for 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch to 10 ounces of grated cheese, plus lemon juice, liquor, garlic, herbs. It appears that there is a lot more to fondue than just melting some cheese.

        1. re: sunshine842

          The brandy/kirsch is for flavoring purposes. The Good Eats transcript says so much. It can be left out.

          What can't be left out is the wine or beer (or in Good Eats example, hard cider)

          From Harold McGee:
          "The combination of cheese and wine is delicious but also savvy. The wine contributes two essential ingredients for a smooth sauce: water, which keeps the casein proteins most and dilute, and tartaric acid, which pulls the cross-linking calcium off of the casein proteins and binds tightly to it, leaving them glueless and happily separate. (Alcohol has nothing to do with fondue stability.) The citric acid in lemon juice will do the same thing. If it’s not too far gone, you can sometimes rescue a tightening cheese sauce with a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of white wine."

          1. re: C. Hamster

            so one could use regular cider?

            i've taken to buying regular cider, then keeping it outside, as it "ages" into hard cider -- LOL

            every now and then i go "burp" the gallon jug.

            1. re: alkapal

              No, you need the alcohol to make it work.

              It needs to be hard cider.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Nonsense. As you quote McGee on your own post above: (Alcohol has nothing to do with fondue stability.) Nor flavor; your simmer the wine or other alcoholic liquid to drive off the raw alcoholic boozy flavor and just leave the essence of the wine or beer or whatever it is. Otherwise you could melt the cheese far below the simmering point.

                  Alcoholic beverages just provide a means to insert water and acid. Anything that provides those things will do, whether or not it has actual alcohol in it. Alcohol itself is completely unnecessary. You could use lemonade if you liked the flavor.

                  Is there any point in pouring Everclear into a fondue?

            1. re: mscoffee1

              oh, geez -- 6 tsp of cornstarch? That' 2 tablespoons!

              Not only would that be enough to funk the flavor, that' more than enough to guarantee that you end up with a congealed mass of greasy ooze in the middle of the pot.

              By the way -- don't use pre-grated cheese -- it's been dusted with cornstarch -- see paragraph 2.

              1. re: sunshine842

                sunshine, I spot-checked a number of 'popular' sites and all seemed to have too much cornstarch. This one from David Lebovitz sounds much better:


                1. re: sunshine842

                  Actually, the more cornstarch you use, the *less* likely it is to clump and separate (which is what I assume you mean by a congealed mess of greasy ooze, and if I'm wrong I apologize), and two tbsp. for almost two pounds of cheese isn't that much. If you toss it with the grated cheese some of it will be left behind in the bottom of the bowl anyhow so it always seems to automatically self-correct.

                  And in reading the recipe I'm not so sure they are advising against pre-grated, as they say "(not processed)", which isn't the same thing. Processed gruyere, I think, is like Laughing Cow, which I think we all agree isn't ideal for fondue. Pre-grated is dusted with cornstarch as you say, so you could just omit some or all of your own cornstarch if you had to use it.

                  And one thing I've found is you can easily just dump all the cheese in at once and it is never a problem. People get terrified about doing it a handful at a time, just at the right pace, for absolutely no reason, and it scares them off and prevents them from doing a really great dish. It is one of the many Myths That Will Not Die.

                  1. re: acgold7

                    no, *I* am recommending to not use pre-grated cheese -- mine would be the voice of experience.

                  2. re: sunshine842

                    Cornstarch is also essential to fondue. Per the Good Eats link you posted.

                    2T likely isn't too much.

                  3. re: mscoffee1

                    Argh, for some reason when I clicked on this by googling the site, I kept getting the 404 message, but your link worked. Thanks

                  4. I use a mixture of shredded cheese (cheddar, colby, edam, etc.), a clove or two of finely chopped garlic, a finely chopped shallot, a big glug of white wine, and a tablespoon or two of corn starch,

                    I combine the shredded cheese and corn starch in a bowl and give it a good mix so all of the cheese is coated. Then I saute the garlic and shallot right in the fondue pot and add the cheese and wine when they are softened. My sister sometimes adds Herbes de Provence which is a nice touch.

                    We serve with bread, breadsticks, and pretzel rods.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Njchicaa

                      I use the same technique as Njchicaa, combine the grated cheese with the corn starch or flour in a bowl. Saute the garlic, onion or shallot in the fondue pot, add the wine and stir in the cheese. I don't usually use Kirsch.

                      As somebody else mentioned, buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself the already shredded cheese just does not work as well. The better the cheese the better the fondue.

                      While not traditional, here is a Cheddar Cheese and Beer Fondue your son might like. (Based on a recipe from The 125 Best Fondue Recipes cookbook)

                      6 oz Monterey Jack Cheese grated
                      4 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
                      4 oz Extra sharp Cheddar cheese grated
                      1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
                      2 tablespoons diced onion
                      1 cup lager beer at room temperature
                      1 tsp dry mustard
                      (optional a dash of hot sauce)

                      Directions, mix the cheeses with the flour and stir to coat. Saute the onion in the fondue pot for a few minutes, put the beer in the fondue pot and heat to medium low. Start adding the cheese stirring after each addition, stir in the dry mustard at the end.

                      1. re: Springhaze2

                        yes, the pre-grated cheeses have been tossed in some anti-stick coating….

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Yes, a strange bizarre substance known as cornstarch.

                          1. re: acgold7


                            for sargento, at least, you are wromg.

                            "Powdered cellulose is a white, odorless, tasteless, totally natural powder made from cellulose, a naturally occurring component of most plants. It won’t absorb moisture because of its fibrous, non-gel structure. When added to shredded cheese, cellulose prevents the cheese from sticking together. Calcium carbonate and potato starch are also natural ingredients. They pass through your body as any food does. They’re not harmful.
                            Sargento sprinkles very small amounts of these anti-caking agents on all varieties of our shredded cheeses, which helps ensure our cheese is easier for consumers to use."

                            you see, i used to do food and drug ;law, and one of our clients was a manufacturer of sodium aluminosilicate, another famous anti-caking agent.

                            further, if in fact the pre-shredded cheeses used cornstrach only, then there would not be any problem in using that cheese if the recipe also included cornstarch, right?

                            1. re: alkapal

                              No argument. But where do they get their cellulose? Most likely from corn. So it's basically cornstarch.

                              But thanks for the added info about one specific ingredient used by one specific company in one part of the country after making a blanket statement about all coatings on all cheeses.

                    2. You have the wine faction, and the Kirschwasser faction. I like them both. Be aadvised that you need KW at 100 proof or greater.

                      One half of the cheese should be gruyere, the other half swiss.

                      Do not use lite or skim milk cheese.

                      Add some nutmeg with the cornstarch. Then correct for flavor.

                      Every piece of bread has to have some crust so it will have a better chance holding together while dunking.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                        Folks in Europe will tell you that you need wine as the base, with Kirschwasser as an enhancement. (that's how I make mine - I use brandy if I don't happen to have Kirsch)

                        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                          Oh...Gruyere is not "Swiss cheese"? I think what you mean to say is that the most commonly used cheeses for a traditional Swiss fondue are a combination of Gruyere and Emmenthaler.

                          1. re: josephnl

                            Yes. Gruyere is Swiss cheese.

                            I also use gruyere and emmental.

                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              Of course Gruyere is Swiss cheese. I was being overly snarky...sorry!