Swiss Chefs Share 10 Tips for the Perfect Cheese Fondue
It’s winter, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy a delicious cheese fondue – internationally, probably Switzerland’s most popular dish.
But with so many different recipes for cheese fondue, it makes you wonder how best to replicate that perfect fondue you enjoyed on your ski holiday in the Swiss Alps.
Gault & Millau asked top Swiss chefs to share their tips for the perfect cheese fondue – did you know that you can use champagne instead of wine?!
1. The Perfect Cheese Mix
Gruyère and Vacherin cheeses should be used as a base. That is the be-all and end-all and gives the ideal mix.
They complement each other very well, and melt well, too, giving the dish a balanced aroma. You can also play with different degrees of maturity of Gruyere and Vacherin and can complement the mix with Raclette cheese. That makes for more whistle!
2. Let the Bread Sit for a Day
Of course fresh bread is fine, but it is advisable to let the bread sit for a day. When fresh, combined with melting cheese it is more difficult to digest.
White bread is traditionally used, though you can also use caraway bread or potatoes, vegetables or fruit such as apples or pears.
3. The Perfect Wine
Wine is of course very important for a delicious fondue. Choose a dry Swiss wine, preferably from the Valais region, which is Switzerland’s largest and most well-known wine region.
The wine should not be too sweet or too fruity. The fondue needs acidity and dryness.
4. Melt, don’t Boil the Cheese
Of course, the quality of the ingredients is important. But what is almost more important is the way you handle the cheese. You have to melt it, never let it boil.
5. Seasoning: Less is More
A little fresh pepper and fresh nutmeg is more than enough. You could also add some garlic, some even throw in shallots. But the mix of cheeses already has so many flavors that it would be a shame to spice it up too much.
If the fondue separates than you probably need to turn the heat down, and stir and stir again and again.
You don’t necessarily have to stir it in an figure-8 pattern, you can also do it in a figure-9 pattern. What is important is that you stir round all the sides, only then will the mixture come to perfection.
7. How to Deal with Thickness
If it is too thick, simply add a drop of water or wine. If it is too thin, add Maizena corn starch and kirsch (brandy).
8. Sometimes it Pays to be Adventurous
You can use champagne in place of white wine, which will make the fondue a bit sparkling. You can even add a red wine for a more intense taste. Morels and porcini mushrooms are also a good fit, or wild garlic when in season. But please no curry!
9. The Best Wine Accompaniment
The best accompaniment is a Chasselas wine, without a doubt! A Heida or a Johannisberg also goes well.
10. IF ONLY IT WEREN’T FOR THE SMELL
Open the window while you are eating. A fireplace also helps. Otherwise ventilate immediately afterwards. Or, best of all, just eat on the terrace.
Since we are here, we are going to add an eleventh tip: make sure you have a good fondue pot. A good pot can make all the difference.
And while using Swiss cheese is optimal, sometimes it’s just impossible to get. So check out our guides on the best substitutes for gruyere and swiss cheese.