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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wenona's Fontina & Jarlsberg Fondue

I know what you are thinking: there is no place for fondue if you are eating healthfully. But see my post on cheese and see if you aren't convinced. It is better to grant yourself intelligent indulgences than to cultivate a sense of deprivation. And the warmth of melted cheese fondue is the perfect vehicle for memories. Last week my husband and I hosted a going away party. Our entertaining style is a constant work in progress, but generally we tend towards warm and memorable moments rather than precision execution of details. So for this going away party we planned the decor and food around our departing friends. The walls were decorated with funny photos of them with little speech balloons of their famous quotes. The menu represented all of their favorite foods from Chicago. Wenona loves cheese fondue, and often went to a local fondue restaurant to celebrate big events. I decided to create a cheese fondue, based on a few basic fondue principles, to celebrate their move. If you are a cheese lover trying to eat healthfully, consider learning this good, flavorful fondue recipe along with a few tips for creative serving.


1 T butter
2 garlic cloves pressed
1 T flour
½ tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1/3-1/2 cup Vermouth or other dry white wine
1-1.5 cups (packed) shredded Fontina
1 cup (packed) shredded Jarlsberg
Juice from 1/3 fresh lemon
Salt & Pepper


I made this in a small slowcooker designed for keeping dips warm through a party. I prefer it to a designated fondue pot because it is more versatile and has a lower temperature setting. I too often have found that fondue pots set on low will still boil and scald the cheese. However, you could also make this on the stove in a pot on low heat.

  • Add 1 T butter to the pot. Allow it to melt then add 2 pressed garlic cloves. Allow them to cook until fragrant but not browned.

  • Add the 1 Tbsp flour and stir. This is the same basic principle as making a roux, but with much less butter than would classically be required to make a proper roux. Cook 2-3 minutes.

  • Add the seasonings and Vermouth. Stir to distribute the roux throughout. Allow to cook over medium high heat until the liquid is hot. Approximately 5-10 minutes.

  • When the cooking liquid is hot, reduce the flame to low, and add the cheese a bit at a time. Stir continuously.

  • When all the cheese is added, add the squeeze of lemon. The lemon helps break down the proteins in the cheese and promotes better blending of the cheese and wine.

  • Stir the cheese mixture firmly. Stir in a zig-zag pattern (rather than circular) to encourage the cheese to break down and blend. I don't like dishes that require too much fussing, so I would encourage alternating about 2-3 minutes of stirring with 5 minutes of allowing it to heat, covered, over the low flame. It may take as much as 25 minutes for the cheese to blend well.

I served this cheese fondue with cubes of French bread and chunks of Granny Smith Apples. However, dark breads such as rye are a classic pairing for the nuttiness of Fontina cheese, so rye would be a wonderful choice for bread cubes too.

Creative Serving Suggestions:

The biggest problem with fondue is often portion control for this decadent dipping sauce. When fondue is served traditionally, everyone shares out of a communal pot. In the face of such melty goodness, no one can exercise restraint. Individual serving vessels are a good way to keep fondue in your repertoire while providing built-in portion control.

For an interesting appetizer sized portion to start off a sit-down meal, ladle your desired serving size into individual custard cups or ramekins. This will likely be anywhere from 1/4 C to 1/3 C per person. Serve the ramekin on a small salad plate with a sensible helping of cubed high fiber rye bread and apples. To be even healthier, substitute vegetables for the bread.

To decrease the serving size to a minimum, serve this elegant fondue as amuse bouche. French for "delights the mouth," amuse bouche is a single bite of something unusual or decadent often sent out unrequested by the chef as a complement to a fine meal. My favorite way to serve amuse bouche is in the small upright spoons found in many Asian food markets. Add a small cube of rye bread and a thin slice of apple roughly to size the bread. Spoon approximately 1 Tbsp of the fondue on top of each. If you would like to garnish, consider a shaved sliver of green onion or a single flat parsley leaf.



Alanna said...
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Kara said...

Hi! I tried your fondue recipe this past weekend and it was a big hit! I had to use swiss emmental cheese though as I couldn't get Jarlsberg but it was fantastic. Lots of good feedback from my guests. Thanks!

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