Fondue is one of those participatory foods that makes for great party fare, and I find it ideal for New Year’s Eve. It is impossible to avoid chatting up your neighbors while you are all dipping things into molten cheese. Traditional fondue etiquette requires that any woman who drops a tidbit into the cheese must kiss her fondue neighbors, while a man who loses control of his skewer must buy the host a bottle of wine. We run an equal-opportunity household here, so the kissing rule applies to everyone. It seems fair.
Fondue often includes the addition of flour or cornstarch to help keep the cheese emulsified, but it isn’t essential and it is a relatively modern addition to the dish. If you skip the starch, as I do, you simply need to keep the fondue warm so the cheese stays fluid. As people dip, they will be stirring the pot, so to speak, and it will all stay warm and goopy and wonderful. I used a blend of Gruyere and Fontina for this batch, but you can substitute other favorite cheeses. Amounts here are for a party-sized batch, but you can cut the recipe in half for a smaller group.
Because the foundation of this experience is a vat of melted cheese and wine, I like to keep the dippers on the light side. I used raw radishes, cherry tomatoes, and peppers, strips of grilled mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and some boiled red potatoes, cut into wedges. Bread cubes are traditional, but I don’t do bread, so add or subtract items as you like.
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ cup creme fraiche (optional, but adds a smooth finish and a nice flavor)
- Assorted bite-sized dippers (raw vegetables, artichoke hearts, olives, mushrooms, boiled potatoes)
- In a saucepan, cook the white wine over medium heat, stirring in the cheeses a little at a time, until all of the cheese is melted into the wine. It will clump at first, but will melt fully as you keep stirring. Stir in the dry mustard, white pepper, and creme fraiche, and keep the fondue warm until ready to serve. You can use a small crockpot to keep it at temperature, or to serve buffet-style.
- Transfer some of the fondue to a fondue pot and let people dip items of their choice. Refill as needed.
Leftover fondue is great served on steamed cauliflower or green beans, for a classy side dish. One can never have too much melted cheese in the house.
Thanks for reading,