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Cheese fondue

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Step 1: When to eat fondue

Fondue is a winter dish. If you have a hankering for some melted cheese in the summer, eat raclette instead (raclette cheese melted and scraped onto baby potatoes and cornichons). Fondue is also a social dish. Never eat fondue alone, that would be even more depressing than solitary drinking. Even sharing it as a couple isn't quite good enough. This dish is meant to be shared with as many friends and family as can sit around the table and reach into the pot.

This combination of winter food and social gathering is what makes this a holiday dish, even though it is not specifically for Christmas.

Step 2: Equipment

The fondue pot is called a "caquelon" (kah klon -- but don't pronounce the "n"). It can be made of clay but most fondue restaurants prefer enameled cast iron pots. Not only are they stronger but they distribute the heat more evenly. The only drawback is that it might take the cheese a little longer to melt. Do not make fondue in any reactive pot, such as aluminum or any other metal, and never make it in any pot treated with a non-stick surface, such as teflon.

The cheese needs to be heated constantly even as you are eating it. For this you will need a "rechaud" ("spirit stove" is the translation suggested by rabid_engineer -- it's a metal stand which holds the pot over an adjustable flame). If you don't have one it can be improvised: a few bricks, a sterno or even 6-8 tea candles and a metal grill from the stove-top or small barbecue will do the trick.

Fondue forks are longer than standard forks, which makes it easier to reach into the pot, and narrower, to fit small pieces of bread. They are also sometimes color coded, which is not important for cheese fondue. It matters only for Bourginonne fondue, which requires you to let pieces of meat cook in hot broth or oil. You can use regular forks -- it just won't be quite as comfortable to share the pot with a group of people.

I am excited to try this out.

To add to your description of what happens when you drink Coke with Fondue, I can confirm that drinking water cold will also give the same results. As a child I would drink hot apple juice with cinnamon when we had fondue.

with the religieuse, have you ever tried cracking an egg in there? it's nice to sop up

Thanks for posting this
FrozenIce2 years ago
oh my god... i absolutely LOVE fondue :) 5*
"mi-blanc" is probably best approximated by a 1:1 mixture of normal white wheat flour and whole-wheat flour.

The funny thing is that the Swiss-German term is the opposite of the Swiss-French term; we approach from the dark side of the bread, so to speak. I guess I'd give myself away by pre-dicing the bread. >_> It just makes more sense! Perfect crust-to-crumb ratio. ;)
belsey (author)  rabid_engineer3 years ago
That's funny, I didn't know that about the Swiss German term for the bread being "half dark" rather than "half white." Or do they call it "half whole?" That would be even better.
"Half whole" just made my day, thank you. :) I would not put it past us Swiss Germans to use such an oxymoronic term. After all, we use 'rezent' to designate a slightly aged cheese... the mind boggles.

At least some of us (me included) use 'ruch' for 'whole' bread, and 'halbruch' for 'mi-blanc'.
I laughed hard at "half whole", until I realized that in France we find some "farine semi-complete" which translates exactly to "half-whole flour". Then I laughed some more ! XD

When I was a kid I lived in Africa for a while, someday a friend brought some cheese and wine and we had a fondue. Not a common dish in Africa but it sure was a reminder of the homeland we left for a while ^_^
A 'rechaud' would probably be best translated by 'spirit stove', I think.
belsey (author)  rabid_engineer3 years ago
Thanks for the translation! I will revise the instructable accordingly
crazyrog174 years ago
 Cool! Great instructable. I'm really thinking of trying this out sometime for something new to do. It's not really an 'American' party, but everyone knows Americans love to eat. Are there any other cheeses we could use or are you just sticking to the Swiss roots? 
belsey (author)  crazyrog174 years ago
 Of course you can try all sorts of cheeses and mixtures -- someone commented below about a Gouda mix which seemed interesting -- but different cheese will react to heat in different ways, some might separate too easily, some might get overly stringy and rubbery, some might melt at a higher temperature while others won't tolerate heat as well.... Gruyere melts really well, vacherin makes it extra soft and creamy and this fondue is just so delicious and simple I'm rarely tempted to make or eat any other. Experiment by all means, but if this is a first try I'd recommend searching for a recipe rather than winging it. Part of the reason fondues disappeared from the american landscape after the 70s is that a poorly made fondue can be revolting....
Emmental cheese for Asterix-like laocoön moments. ;)
acexkeikai3 years ago
I've been to a Fndue restaurant last night and I got the explaination why it's called a "religieuse" also the person comes from switzerland so I am pretty sure it's accurate. Ok so Swiss priests would often eat fondue in the winter time and gave the empty pot with the recidue to the nuns (religieuses) and let them clean and eat the rest. This is why they call it this wayu...like always the man miss out on the best part thinking they give to the womanfolk the crumbs of their feast.
belsey (author)  acexkeikai3 years ago
I hadn't hear that story... sounds plausible enough. Thanks for posting it!
talty4 years ago
I love cheese, good cheese! And of course I 've always loved fondue... a good fondue is kind of expensive here in Mexico. but totally worth it. So I really loved this! I learned so much, I need to make my own fondue!

Thank you so much!
belsey (author)  talty4 years ago
 It's fairly expensive wherever you are, because the cheese is already costly when it starts out in Switzerland... but sometimes you can find ready-made kits (with wine and kirsch already mixed in) which are reasonable and sometimes almost as good.
ycc21064 years ago
Nicely made instructable and well documented.

In my not so long life, I have heard many contradictions about fondue and each region seem think they do it the right way.

- Some people told me it's better to drink coke than any non cold fizzy drinks, as it will 'melt' the cheese. 
I think the thing is: it's OK if you don't exaggerate. (according to the news, some have chocked to death)
- Some put rice and eggs near the end, it become like a risotto.  -btw, quit tasty.

- Some say if you lose you bread you pay the bill, or at least the wine.

- and some fondue crazies eat alone in restaurants. They generally order for 2, even 3! The incredible part is: They manage to finish!!!  ( o_O )

RomanH ycc21064 years ago
"Some put rice and eggs near the end, it become like a risotto"

I've never put rice in, yet. (I might just try it someday, though...) But the thing with the egg is definitely something I recomend. Just put an egg into the pan and stir it around with the remaining cheese and you get a wonderful scrambled egg!
belsey (author)  ycc21064 years ago
 Yes, well, when you gotta have it, you just gotta have it. I've eaten fondues on hot summer days too because I couldn't wait till winter. I tried to emphasize the regional aspect about the so-called "right" way to do this -- but honestly, don't drink coke. I had thought that rule was just another fondue myth until I tested it. This was a quarter of a century ago (yikes!) and I still shudder at the memory of that miserable night. And now that I know a bit more about chemistry I know that the acid in Coke (citric and phosphorous) make the cassein in the melted cheese bind together to form an insoluble (and indigestible) plastic....
sctirvn6874 years ago
Would a crock pot do well with fondue?
belsey (author)  sctirvn6874 years ago
 I don't think so, because you need to be able to adjust the temperature. Maybe you could melt the cheese over the stove top and then transfer it to the crock pot for serving?
andycyca4 years ago
Fondue is one of the best things that have happened to humanity. My uncle is french and I remember him preparing fondue differently (manchego, gouda and three other varieties I can't recall right now). We used to drink (German?) white wine alone. He told us that the "price" for dropping your bread was usually telling a secret, cleaning the dishes or something like that. This only further proves how deep human culture is.

Thanks for the recipe, but above all, thanks for sharing with us everything behind fondue (traditions, tips, names, etc). That last pic is both AWESOME and INSPIRING.
Behold the power of cheese!
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