Melting for Fondue
You Heard It Here: Hot Cheese Has Healing Powers.
The flavors that you associate with winter truly depend on where you come from.
If you’re from the East Coast of the United States, chances are you pair cold weather with hot cocoa - or a very adult hot toddy.
If you’re from California, you might just know that winter is prime citrus season and feel like peeling off the rind of a tangerine or cooking with more citrus than ever before.
French and Flemish-speaking Belgians alike have a plethora of cold-weather dishes to choose from, but our favorite is “Moules-Frites,” steamed mussels and piping hot fries (as with oysters, you should eat mussels during months with the letter “r,” so November, December, January, February…)
Our Quebecois friends think of winter - which, of course, lasts one billion months up north - as a perfect time to throw some maple syrup out on the snow, watch it freeze, and then gobble it up as candy (this is 100% a real thing).
If you grew up in France, you have a treasure trove of winter flavors to choose from. Walk down the streets of Paris in December and you will see fruit stand after fruit stand selling clementines. Sit down at a cafe in Bordeaux and peruse the dessert menu, and something there will have chestnut paste in it (I have seen French children eat spoonfuls of the achingly-sweet crème de marron and have had to pull it away from them before they made themselves sick).
But most French people - particularly those from mountainous regions, like our founder, Julien - know what the winter months taste like.
And that, nos ami(e)s, is hot, sticky, gooey, delicious melted cheese.
The accoutrements vary. Some like their melted cheese mixed with potatoes and lardons and thrown in the oven (tartiflette), some like to watch it sizzle in a tiny frying pan before they dump it over a plate full of steamed potatoes, charcuterie, pickles, and salad (raclette). Somehow they all agree that these dishes are necessary to restore your strength after a long day of skiing or just being out in the cold.
So, yes, from now on, if anyone asks: melted cheese has healing powers.
For Julien and his husband, Christopher, the end of 2020 is the perfect time to test out their tried-and-true recipe for fondue savoyarde, what most North Americans think of as Cheese Fondue (as opposed to fondue bourguignonne, where you fry tiny cuts of meat in hot oil). This is not only a delicious winter dish, but is also a traditional meal to be enjoyed for New Year’s Eve (with a glass or two of Sancerre, if you please).
Check out their exploits in the kitchen below, as well as The French Collective fondue savoyarde recipe!
A very special thank you to Monsieur Marcel in Los Angeles who had the perfect cheeses for our fondue!
For this recipe, it is best to have a fondue pot, but not necessary. If you have a heavy-bottomed pot and an elevated trivet, a simple tealight candle underneath the pot will keep the melted cheese warm during your meal.
The French Collective Fondue Savoyard
Cut up 400g of comte, 400g of beaufort, and 200g of emmental into small cubes.
Peel one garlic clove and rub it over the bottom of the pot you’ll be cooking in. Leave the clove in the pot when done.
Heat up 25 cl of dry white wine over a medium heat in your pot. You can set an additional 5 cl of dry white wine, mixed with one teaspoon of cornstarch to the side, to thicken your sauce if you’d like.
Add one teaspoon of ground nutmeg to the wine. As soon as the wine begins to bubble, add in your cheese a little at a time, constantly stirring and turning down the heat to medium-low. Once cheese is melted, you can add in the cornstarch mixture if you’d like.
Add a shot glass of kirsch (2-4 cl) to the mixture. Traditionally, you would add pepper (not salt) at the very end, but you do you!
Serve with day-old bread cut into cubes and lightly toasted in the oven. If you have long fondue picks, perfect! But forks will do the trick.
Pro-tip: The French occasionally stir in an egg yolk at the end of the meal to help recuperate the last little bits of cheese sticking to the bottom of the pot.