German Cheddar and Beer Fondue

MommyDoh bought a fondue pot and had been eating my brains (and not eating any cheese at all) because she wanted me to make fondue.

So, a few recipes were looked up. A little gyaan was sought. The web was consulted. And the following interesting points were arrived at.

There can be cheese fondues and chocolate fondues. I’ll talk about cheese fondues because I can’t wait for chocolate to cook. I’d rather eat it as is, or for a baking recipe (which *is* cooking the chocolate, but shoosh… no one said anything about getting into techinicalities).

Cheese fondue is usually a blend of cheeses, cooked/melted using wine some cherry liqueur and flavoured additionally with seasoning, if at all. A small amount of cornstarch is often added to prevent separation.

Different fondue recipes use different combinations of cheese. The most common cheese used for fondues is the Gruyère. Gruyère and Emmental was a common combination I saw. Fontina was another favourite among several recipes.

And this weekend, because I have so much cheese at home, I’m going to do a nice cheese platter. My posh French aunt is visiting. And we could totally open this bottle of Muscat she had given me one time (yes, it is still unopened) or may be I’ll just buy a bottle of La Reserve or Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay and eat some cheese and have a good time. Oooooh. Excited, already! I bought Gruyère and extra sharp Cheddar for the fondue. Why? You’ll know in just a bit. But coming back to my cheese platter, there’s some Gruyère at home and some Smoked Gouda and some Fontina (I had another posh American aunt visit last week and she got those for me, as if we don’t get that sort of stuff at Dorabjee’s or Nature’s Basket. Heh. It *was* utterly sweet of her to bring me fancy cheese and not Kraft slices, this time around. I grew up feasting on Kraft cheese slices, folding them into quarters and folding the quarters into quarters and enjoying a single slice of cheese for minutes!!!). So, yes, the cheese platter/plate seems do-able. Some olives, may be. Ooooh. I’m reminded of this guava concentrate block thingy I once had with G when I was in NYC. Anyway, there’s a recipe I need to write. I need to get to that.

I picked (Don’t judge me!) a Rachel Ray recipe. At least this one didn’t use a tub of cream cheese! It looked interesting and it was a different take on regular fondues, altogether. Beer instead of wine. Spice instead of sweet. And it turned out pretty good. Of course, I used my proportions to suit my palette and the recipe below is my take on her recipe I found on Food Network.

Ingredients:
2 cups extra sharp Cheddar, shredded
2cups Gruyère, shredded
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups Schneider Weiss (the original recipe suggested a dark German lager, but this is all I had at hand)
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
A few drops hot sauce
A few drops Worcestershire sauce

Method:
1. Combine the cheeses in a bowl with the flour.
2. Add the beer to a small pot and bring up to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cheese mixture in batches. Stir constantly, ensuring that the cheese melts.
4. Stir in a figure-eight pattern with wooden spoon. (Pro-tip, I believe. I didn’t. Hehe.)
5. When the cheese has been incorporated fully, stir in the mustard, the hot sauce and the Worcestershire sauce, to taste.
6. Transfer the fondue to a warm fondue pot and serve with veggies/meats/bread.

For Serving:
I used an assortment of meats, veggies and bread for dipping material because my grandparents are vegetarian, my parents selectively non-vegetarian and me, ahem… “You could eat a dog”, my dad says.

For the grandmum, I grilled some paneer and cauliflower florets.

For mum and dad, we used those tiny chicken sausages you get at the super market and grilled them.

For myself, I used cubes of smoked ham.

And then for the bread, I did some (in my humble opinion) utterly cool stuff. Earlier that evening, I picked up a few pieces of brun bread from a small-time bakery in the city. I cut thick slices of the bread and further then, cut the bread into cubes. I lined a baking tray with some foil, threw a whole bunch of the cubes of bread in, drizzled some olive oil (I had mixed some dried basil and some crushed garlic in the oil) over them, and baked them for 5-7 minutes at extremely low heat. When I pulled them out of the oven, they were light brown and just the right amount of crisp. Perfect dipping bread for my fondue.

(Ok, happy stripey, chocolate fondue pot… But it’s the emotion and the hunger that counts. I’m sure you know that.)

Oh, and a sweet nothing I read on Wikipedia about fondue etiquette/culture:
“A tradition says that if a man loses his bread in the pot, he buys drinks all around, and if a woman does, she must kiss her neighbors.”
Too bad for me, I was with my parents. My dad usually buys the alcohol for the bar anyway. And the folks would freak out if I’d suddenly start planting kisses on their cheeks twenty seven years into having been with them.

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