I remember with great fondness the fondue meals of my youth. Sometimes it was the traditional melted gruyere with wine into which we dipped cubes of bread, sometimes the more dangerous hot oil into which we slipped cubes of beef, chicken, or shrimp to cook and then dredge through an assortment of savory sauces. Whatever the type, I remember fondue night being a lot of fun and a total departure from our normal meal time routine.
I didn't experience fondue again until I lived in France when the boys and I would enjoy it while on our ski getaways to the alps. There were a number of great restaurants at Courchevel that specialized in fondues, as it is a nearly perfect après ski meal. As my boys are all cheese-hounds, they loved the meals as much as I did and they became an important part of our ski trip tradition as long as we lived there.
Since moving back to the States I had sort of forgotten about fondues and all their goodness. It wasn't until a few weeks ago, when I decided to dedicate an afternoon to reorganizing my pantry, that I even realized that I still owned a fondue pot and skewers. As I pulled out under (or never) utilized items to move into the basement or giveaway entirely, I found an old, yet hardly used Calphalon fondue set. As it had been years since I last made the stuff I was inclined to toss it into the giveaway pile, but when my wife saw it she implored me to keep it, and better yet put it into immediate service.
As it had been years since I made fondue I didn't have a recipe handy and so went searching in hopes of finding one that was a little easier on the waistline than the ones I remember from years past. As luck would have it, we found one from Rachael Ray that promised to be healthier by using some chicken stock thickened with cornstarch to lighten the mix a little. We made the dish exactly as specified in her recipe and loved the result, it was packed with flavor, smooth and rich, just what a cheese fondue should be, but with about half of the cheese called for in most recipes.
We kept our dippers pretty traditional using assorted fresh vegetables, some cooked chicken meatballs, and chunks of grilled rustic bread, but anything that tastes good with cheese will work here so have some fun and dip away to your heart's content.
Cheers – Steve
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup swiss cheese, such as gruyere or emmenthaler, shredded
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the crushed garlic, then discard the clove.
- Whisk the mustard and chicken stock together in a pot and bring to a boil.
- Whisk the wine and cornstarch together in a bowl, then add to the boiling chicken stock, and cook, whisking all the while for 1 minute.
- Add the shredded cheese to the pot and stir until all the cheese has melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper, transfer fondue to a fondue pot and serve with assorted fresh vegetables, and chunks of grilled bread.