Today we are talking about cheese fondue. Mmmmm. I love cheese and a big pot of melty cheese is especially tasty. About two years ago my husband and I went out for a special anniversary dinner at the Melting Pot, which is a chain fondue restaurant. We went all out on the four course dinner, complete with wine for each of us. It was so good, but boy was it expensive!
We wanted to have fondue again but could not afford to hit up the Melting Pot every time we had the craving. So I decided to make it at home.
But wait, don’t you need a special fondue pot to make fondue? The answer is no. All you need is a saucepan and a mini crock-pot. Mini crock-pots are very versatile kitchen tools and can be purchased just about anywhere for relatively cheap. You can find one at Target for around $16.99 by clicking here. When looking for a mini crock-pot make sure you get one with a removable inter pot, which makes it much easier to clean.
You’ll be able to use this kitchen tool for lots of recipes rather than the fondue pot which is just used for fondue and usually ends up taking up space in your kitchen. How often will you really make fondue? Although it’s really yummy and easy to make, it’s not something you make every week. I’ve made it only twice this year so far.
Let’s get started:
Cheese Fondue, from Betty Crocker’s Big Red Cookbook
4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1 cup dry white wine or white cooking wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons kirsch, dry sherry, brandy or white cooking wine
1 loaf French bread, cut into bite size pieces
Place cheese and flour in a resealable plastic bag. Shake until cheese is coated with flour.
Rub garlic on bottom and side of saucepan, discard garlic. Add 1 cup wine. Heat over simmer setting or low heat just until bubbles rise to surface (do not boil). Stir in lemon juice.
Gradually add cheese mixture, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly with wooden spoon over low heat, until melted. Stir in kirsch, sherry, brandy or wine. Once liquid is incorporated, transfer cheese fondue to a preheated mini crock-pot.
Spear bread with forks; dip and swirl in fondue with stirring motion. If fondue becomes too thick, stir in ¼ cup to ½ cup heated wine.
The trick to remember with cheese fondue is to use LOW heat. I kept my burner at two or lower the entire time. If the heat is too high and you try to melt the cheese too fast, the whole thing will curdle and be ruined. It will be a yucky, clumpy mess. Just ask my husband about the time I tried to make broccoli cheese soup from scratch. Poor thing even ate the yucky, clumpy mess to be nice. To this day he claims it was not that bad – ha! I tasted it and it was that bad. So don’t be in a hurry. Slow and steady will get you better fondue in the end.
Once you have mastered the basic fondue recipe, you can start experimenting with other cheeses and flavors. Betty Crocker recommends using 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese and 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese. I have found Gruyere to be quite expensive so I have not tried it yet due to cost.
Besides bread, other dippers that are excellent with cheese fondue are Granny Smith apples and assorted vegetables.
So is it worth it? Most definitely!!! Traditional Swiss cheese fondue for two at the Melting Pot costs $14.95 per person. Add in two glasses of wine at an average of $8 per person and then 7.5% tax and 20% tip and your bill will total approximately $40.
The cost to make cheese fondue at home is relatively inexpensive depending on the ingredients you use. Four cups of pre-shredded Swiss cheese cost me $3.33 (on sale at my local grocery store). A bottle of cooking wine costs approximately $3.00 and you won’t use the whole thing in this recipe. A loaf of French bread at my local grocery store was $0.99, and I only used half the loaf for this meal. The other half I put in the freezer for the next time I make fondue. One apple is plenty for two people and it cost $0.64. The other ingredients (flour, garlic, and lemon juice) are all so slight that the cost is negligible. Then add in an entire bottle of wine for two for about $12.
So the total cost to make this fondue is $3.33 for cheese, $2.00 for 2/3 bottle of cooking wine, $0.50 for half loaf of French bread, $0.64 for an apple and $12.00 for a bottle of wine, totaling $19.85 when you add in 7.5% sales tax. That’s a 50% savings and you get an entire bottle of wine!
I really enjoy making fondue at home and recommend it for everyone to try. It’s a fun, simple and inexpensive meal for special occasions. The picture above is of the cheese fondue I made myself last Saturday night. If I can do it – you can do it!
Stay tuned for the only fondue better than cheese fondue – Chocolate Fondue!