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MELT SOME CHEESE: RACLETTE AND FONDUE

First, what are Raclette and Fondue? Cheese Fondue is melted cheese and wine in a pot. People eat straight from the pot, by dipping bread in it and stirring. Keep going until you can't anymore or the pot is empty. Raclette is scraped melted cheese. You put a block of cheese near a grill to melt a layer and then scrape it off. Serve on potatoes, with pickles. Keep going until you can't anymore or the cheese is gone. In both cases, you will eat A LOT OF CHEESE.

Drink With Fondue: crisp and clear white wine

In Switzerland we traditionally drink crisp white Chasselas, tea (no milk, that'd be dairy overload!), and Kirsch (in tiny amounts) with cheese fondue. It needs to be dry and very clean to cut through the cheese.

To vary we might go for Doral, Heida, Joahnisberg or Petite Arvine, but aromatic complexity can be lost under all the cheese. I still feel Chasselas is the best, as much of its complexity is in the mouthfeel not the nose.

In Savoie they drink Jacquere for the same reason, as well as Altesse.

For people accustomed to sharp acitidy in their white wine, Chasselas can feel "not enough" with Fondue. The Savoie wines will work better for you - or the Chasselas "Goutte d'Or" which has more freshness than most.

To the Fondue wines!

How to make fondue

With Raclette: more complexity works

When using a family oven, the ones where you use slices of cheese in little dishes to melt them in individual portions, the cheese is often topped with slices of onion, garlic or tomato and is usually served with potatoes and mixed pickles.

Additionally it can be extended with platters of cold cuts and dried meat and of course salads, to make the meal more complete.

If you don't have a raclette oven, or if your raclette maker suddenly dies, raclette can be made in a typical grill using small oven proof dishes. This is not particularly ecological.

Raclette was traditionally accompanied with the same wines we drink with cheese fondue, but as raclette is milder and more balanced and therefore more complex wines can be used like a Petite Arvine, Savoie Altesse or dry Roussanne, or in red, a Gamay or Dôle.

To the Raclette wines!

Making Fondue

My fondue making tips had grown too big and now have their own Fondue Making page - I left a cheat sheet here as a refresher course :)

In Switzerland, fondue is 200g of cheese per person, served just with bread and pickles, sometimes a small salad is served before. It is unashamedly the main and only course. In Savoie, fondue is usually smaller, accompanied by a large platter of cold cuts and  a large salad. It is often runnier, which is a surprise to the Swiss on holiday in France.

At its most simple, Swiss fondue is 200g of cheese and 1 dl (100g) of wine per person.

The rules:

  • Blend your cheeses.
  • Use a dry, crisp white wine.
  • As much garlic as you dare.
  • Use a binding agent.
  • Use crusty bread.
  • Keep everyone stirring.

More details can be found on our Fondue Making page

Stirring Fondue

Step by Step:

0. Rub the pot with garlic (we don't do this).

1. Put the cheese in, add the wine and the (optional) garlic slivers.

2. Heat slowly, stirring often. Smooth steady motion in a figure of 8 works quite well.

3. Once the cheese has started to melt add a diluted teaspoon of corn starch - if you are making a fondue for two - in a little bit of kirsch and add it to the mix. Heat to a low "boil".

4. Keep stirring regularly as the cheese melts. The cheese should bind. If it doesn't bind stir some more.

5. Add a dash nutmeg and generous amounts of pepper to taste finish the fondue (or other spices/herbs should you feel adventurous).

If you are going to make several fondues in parallel, make them together in one pan and then split the liquid fondue across all the fondue pots at the end.

More details, variants and urban legends on our Fondue Recipe page

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