[Related: The Fondue Manifesto]
400g (about 14 ounces) Le Gruyère, rind removed, weighed after it has been shredded or cut into very small cubes
400g (about 14 ounces) Vacherin Fribourgeois, rind and gauzy wrapper removed, weighed after it has been cut into very small cubes
1-2 garlic cloves (to taste)
1-2 shallots (to taste)
4 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
300 ml (a splash more than 1 1/4 cups) + 1 flute Champagne (inexpensive, brut)
1 shot vodka martini (shaken not stirred)
Black truffles (to taste)
Good, crusty bread cut into bite-size cubes
Rub the bottom and inside walls of a cold caquelon, ideally made of stoneware or ceramic, with garlic. Dice the rest of the garlic and toss into the pot along with finely chopped shallots, both to taste.
Add all of the cheeses to the cold pot.
Gradually whisk corn starch into the Champagne and pour over the cheeses along with the lemon juice, still away from any heat. Gently mix with a wooden spoon and set aside for least 20 minutes.
Place pot on stovetop burner set to low to medium heat. Stir constantly and gently in a figure-8 motion with a wooden spoon (ideally with a hole in it) and let the mixture begin to melt. You can also heat the fondue gradually over a rechaud/stand at the table. Just be sure to keep the heat low. Stir slowly but methodically, letting the spoon scrape the bottom of the caquelon.
Add the vodka martini as the cheese begins to liquify.
The cheese and the liquids may separate. Relax and keep stirring, sipping the flute of Champagne, which is for you. As long as your heat isn’t too high, the mixture will gradually take on a uniform consistency. When ready, after 10-15 minutes, the cheese should run off the wooden spoon in a creamy fashion with no lumps.
Garnish with truffle shavings and serve immediately on a lit rechaud. Monitor the flame. Don’t let the cheese boil.
Skewer bread cubes through the crust and use them to stir the pot before eating each cube. Don't prematurely scrape off a burned crust that forms on the bottom of the caquelon. Called the “grandmother” or “nun” in German and French, respectively, the crusty bit is best saved for last.
If you lose your cube in the cheese, tradition says you must kiss the chef. Try dipping blanched broccoli into the cheese to get some greens with your meal. Dipping a bread cube into a small amount of kirsch before swirling it around in the pot gives each bite an extra zing.
A report by the BBC found that drinking black tea or plain water with fondue helps reduce the chances of a “cheese baby” forming in your gut, but a dry, fruity white wine is lovely, too. Never drink beer with fondue! Juicy, tangy cutie oranges serve as a delicious dessert after so much salt.
If you can’t finish the entire pot (really?!), let it cool and place covered in the fridge. The disk of leftover cheese will pop out rather easily in the morning and is delicious when melted over roasted potatoes or scrambled eggs.
The season’s first fondue:
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