Fondue Savoyarde and Happy New Year
Approx cost: €16
Approx calories (per serving, inc. bread, meat): ~1000 calories
Approx preparation and cooking time: 45mins
Firstly, let me kick off 2012 by saying “Happy New Year” to each and every one of my readers – or should I say “Gott Nytt År”, since I’m in Sweden right now. May 2012 bring you many happinesses and I hope you’re able to set some attainable targets for yourself. Looking back on 2011 – I’ll remember this as the year of the blog. I started blogging in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2011 that I started gaining a reader base. 2011 seemed to fly by, but conversely January seemed so long ago. I’ve “met” some fantastic people in the last year. I know how some of you have cute little (or big in some cases) dogs, I’ve followed you on your holiday trips, and I’ve read about your sweet children upturning plates on tables, among other hilarious antics. It’s been a fun year – let’s raise a glass to another great one!
I did promise you a picture or two from Sweden, so here’s one for you today. Look at this cute sunset… isn’t it nice. Oh, I should mention this photo was taken at just past 11am. Yeeeah. 9.30 – sun comes up, says hello, does a little jig in the sky, 11.30 it’s on it’s way to bed – though the “dusk” is actually quite slow. It’s not until 3pm that it’s completely dark (and yep – those are snow-scooter tracks in the field to the left!)
For today’s recipe I thought I’d post something which is just perfect for “high days and holidays” so to speak. Definitely something for the winter this dish will leave you feeling stuffed for hours. I recommend eating this at lunch, so you’ll have the rest of the day to digest it, as well as time for a brisk walk in the evening before bed – just to be sure you’ve burnt off enough of the giant cheese ball sitting in your belly (although there’s also something very satisfying about literally rolling into bed shortly after finishing the meal). The basic cheeses used are Beaufort, Comté and Emmental, though you can play about a little with these. Purists might balk at the idea of adding non-traditional cheeses to the mix but I say if it tastes good then where’s the harm? I think I used a Tomme de Savoie cheese once instead of Emmental, for example. You need to be sure that you buy quality cheese. Dutch Emmental, in my experience, really doesn’t melt at all – instead turning into sweaty, rubber, cubes. This time I purchased Emmental de Savoie which worked wonderfully. Savoie being this region of France, of course, and the origin of the wine and most of the cheeses used in this dish (Comté comes from just slightly further North, from the Franche-Comté region of France). As with any dish like this, you can really experiment with the quantities to find your perfect “blend”.
To eat with the fondue, you’ll need some good charcuterie, or cold meats. Nothing spicy like chorizo or salami – ideally you should try and get french meats from the Savoie region. This time we ate Coppa, Rosette and Jambon de Savoie… a meat a little like Prosciutto. A large bowl of pickled cornichons will be required, as well as an abundance of good baguette to properly enjoy the meal. You’ll also need a fondue set… one sufficiently large enough for a cheese fondue. Horror of horrors, when everything was ready in the picture above I realised that the packet of flammable paste, which you burn underneath the pot, had run dry In the end we used my wife’s slow-cooker set to high. Not a bad result!
I have a friend who I would consider the king of fondues. My wife and I spent several great evenings with him and his wife, laughing the evening away over a giant bowl of melted cheese (damn that sounds decadent). Unfortunately, he moved away to another part of the world, so it’s rare that we have a chance to enjoy such a dish anymore – though perhaps that’s best for my waistline at least Enjoy, everyone!
For the fondue:
- 350g Beaufort Cheese
- 250g Comte Cheese
- 250g Emmental Cheese
- 1 large glass white Savoie wine, preferably “Aprémont”
- 4 tbsps Kirsch
- 2-3 tbsps Cornflour/Corn Starch
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 clove of Garlic
For the accompaniments:
- 1-2 Baguettes
- Good sliced meats – Prosciutto, Rosette, Wild boar, Coppa etc
- Start off by peeling the garlic, cutting in half, and rubbing all around the inside of the fondue bowl. Squeezing hard to extract as much oil as possible. Next, cut the cheese into small cubes of about 1cm. Mix the cheese well and transfer into the bowl of your fondue kit. Pour in the kirsch and sprinkle the cornflour/corn starch on top until you have a thin layer covering the cheese, as shown below. Sprinkle on the nutmeg and then gently pour in the wine. You want the wine to come up about a third of the way to the top of the cheese. Too much and you’ll have a large liquid puddle later (although this will disappear eventually). Too little and the cheese will just melt, burn and coagulate into a hard clump.
- Light the burner under the fondue bowl and heat on a medium heat, stirring regularly (not constantly), but gently, using a wooden spoon, to ensure the cheese doesn’t burn. The cheese at the bottom will begin to get stringy first. Keep stirring occasionally, mixing in all the cheese with the liquid until you achieve “complete cheese melt-down”. Sample the fondue by skewering a piece of bread and dipping it into the cheese before removing it and sliding it off the skewer onto your plate.
- The cheese should be nice and hot – if it’s not then continue heating for a while, but when you’ve achieved the desired temperature, turn the heat down (not off) while you’re eating. Eat the cheesy bread with the cold meats and the cornichons. Wash it all down with something refreshing because you’re going to need it! Enjoy