Monday, 4 November 2013

Recipe for cheese fondue, the perfect supper club dish

cheese fondue recipe

Somehow cheese fondue has become associated with the 1970s, coinciding perhaps with the first mass-market skiing holidays when British tourists discovered the dish. Every wedding list contains a cheese fondue set, most car boot sales have one lurking underneath a table. It's true we don't use our fondue sets often, neglected, they gather dust at the back of the kitchen cupboard. But I refute allegations of naffness. Cheese fondue is delicious, luxurious, warming, festive and the ultimate sharing dish. And as such it is the perfect supper club entrée, you cannot ignore your fellow guests when fighting over the longed for crunchy bits at the bottom, once the yellow alcoholic buttery liquid has reduced. It's a fight with fondue forks...en garde!

Once you've wiped the fondue pot with half a clove of garlic, you add the liquid: the alcohol. A good white wine is neccessary. They say kirsch is optional but cheese fondue does benefit from the slight bitter taste of cherry stones. 
Then the grated cheese: classic fondue cheeses are emmental and gruyere, nutty, stringy cheeses from the Alpine area of France and from Switzerland. You can also use Fontina, Reblochon, Tomme. 
Finally the thickener, so the cheese and alcohol do not swim around ignoring each other, like oil and water. You need something to bond them together. There seems to be two main approaches to thickening cheese fondue: with cornflour or with bread.
You must take care to cook down the cornflour to remove the raw taste. Bread must be sourdough or at the very least stale. Chorleywood style processed bread is not acceptable. I like to fusion it up a bit with the accompaniments to raclette, and add small potatoes for dipping, plus pickles.
Tradition has it that whoever loses their cube of bread in a cheese fondue must buy a bottle of white wine. The great thing about this dish is that because of the fattiness, you can drink more than usual.
Patricia Michelson, owner of La Fromagerie and all round cheese expert suggests in The Cheese Room, doing an English version with a third each of Cheddar, Cheshire and Wensleydale. 

For six


1 clove garlic, halved

One bottle of white wine (from Savoie if possible)

600g emmental cheese grated

400g gruyère cheese grated

1 tsp cornflour

1 tbsp kirsch (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper

cubed bread pieces, for dipping

Silverskin onions

Cocktail gherkins/cornichons

Small potatoes, baked on salt

Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the halves of garlic.

Add the wine to the pot and heat until bubbling. Lower the heat and gradually stir in the cheeses until melted, stirring all the time.

If using kirsch, blend with the cornflour, otherwise use water. Add to the cheese mixture and cook gently until the mixture is smooth - don't let it boil or it will burn.

Using the fondue forks, dip the bread cubes into the cheese, twist the fork to maximise the cheese load and transfer it to your mouth.

Accompany with a walnut oil dressed green salad, the pickles.

I would also suggest baking tiny potatoes on a bed of sea salt for half an hour. Lovely dipping material too!

Don't you just love these 70s English pottery soup bowls that I picked up last week at a local charity shop?
cheese fondue recipe


  1. Your fondue looks fabulous and I ADORE those bowls.

    1. I can see why people are starting to collect 70s British china!


I would love to hear what you think of this post! I try to reply to every comment (if there is a delay, I am probably away from an internet connection or abroad)