Each year we catch up with our dear friends Motoko and Ernesto and their boys for our traditional Swiss Fondue night. Prepared by Ernesto. It’s truly delicious and something we very much look forward to. On their wall is a photo of both families enjoying a fondue dinner many years ago. The children look so very small and dare I say it we all look so much younger. How very quickly time passes.
True Swiss fondue is prepared in a special pot called a “caquelon”. A glazed ceramic or earthenware pot durable enough to withstand heat. It is said that eating from the same caquelon establishes friendships. It’s true! We can certainly vouch for that.
Once the fondue has been prepared on the stove, the caquelon is set up on the table top over a small burner. Whilst its important to keep fondue bubbling away over the flame, care also needs to be taken to make sure the mixture does not overheat. This means skewered cubes of bread need to constantly be forked through the fondue. Whatever you do, avoid dropping your bread from your fork. This will incur a penalty. To be determined by your hosts.
When the fondue is finished, the hardened cheese at the bottom of the caquelon, la religieuse is considered a tasty reward for the lucky diner who manages to release it from the pot. As you can probably guess, over the years, our families have spent many pleasant hours around Ernesto’s caquelon.
As Ernesto prepares the fondue, the table is set with gas burners and separate platters of cubed bread and cured meat with cornichons
There is also an accompaniment of a mixed green salad.
Simple but delicious and incredibly warming on a cold winter’s night. Here’s my interpretation of a fondue dinner.
Cheese Fondue. Swiss Style
Serves 4 -6
500 grams Gruyere, coarsely grated
300 grams Emmenthal, coarsely grated
1 tablespoon corn flour
1 – 2 cloves garlic
375 ml dry white wine
4 tablespoons Kirsch (Cherry Liqueur)
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
2 loaves crusty French baguettes, cubed for dipping
200 g cured meats, thinly sliced
1 small jar cornichons
1 green garden salad
TOSS the cheeses together.
RUB the inside of a caquelon with the cut garlic clove.
MIX the wine and 2 tablespoons Kirsch with the con flour.
ADD to the caquelon and bring to a simmer over a medium heat on the stove top.
ADD handfuls of the cheese, 1/2 a cup at a time.
SIMMER, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted and is warm and smooth. Not hot and overheated.
ADD the remaining 2 tablespoons Kirsch if the mixture is too thick.
SEASON with nutmeg(if using) and pepper, to taste.
PLACE the caquelon over a gas burner on the table. Adjust the flame so that the cheese stays warm and at a constant temperature while eating.
SERVE at the table with accompaniments.
INVITE your guests to place a small piece of bread on a long handled fork. Stir it gently in the cheese. Remove onto a plate. Enjoy.