As I look outside watching large flakes of snow drop from the sky, nothing sounds better than curling up and dipping stuff in warm, gooey cheese with family and friends gathered around the pot.
I’ve been making fondue for years. One of the first pieces of cookware I owned was a fondue set, gifted to me before I had more practical items like plates or a decent frying pan. I still have that set, and it’s been tied to so many special events: a quiet New Year’s gathering at home with friends, a romantic date, my best friend’s bachelorette party, a chocolate-based Passover Seder, a Swiss restaurant in Bariloche, Argentina that I visited with my parents. A lot of these special events have been snatched away from us in the past year and today is the Super Bowl, one of the days where I usually get together with a group of friends to enjoy good food and entertainment. Today, I’m staying at home watching the game and the snow, but determined to make it festive anyways.
Turns out that humans have been dipping things into melted cheese for a long time. Fondue has origins in French-speaking Switzerland, with early mentions referenced as far back as 1699 (or even, as one site claimed, in the Iliad). Its name comes from the French verb fondre, meaning “to melt”. The most traditional versions of the dish combine wine, Swiss cheeses such as Gruyére and Emmental, and bread for dipping, served on long forks dipped in a communal pot over a low flame. There are many varieties of fondue across Switzerland and neighboring regions, and the dish has become popular worldwide. This variation is anything but traditional, using cheddar and gouda cheeses and a good lager beer as the base.
No fondue pot? No problem! There are many hacks, including using a crockpot, using a double boiler on the stove, or rigging a pot up over a small candle or sterno. My preference is to make the fondue on a stove over low heat, then transfer to the fondue set to keep it warm.
Cheddar & Gouda Beer Fondue
30 minutes, makes one pot of fondue
Cheddar Gouda Beer Fondue
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces gouda
- 4 ounces smoked gouda
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 12 ounces lager beer (I used Brooklyn Beer Lager)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
For Dipping (choose a few favorites!)
- A baguette, cut into 1″ squares and toasted
- Broccoli, raw or steamed
- Cauliflower, raw or steamed
- Roasted potatoes
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Large nonstick pan
- Food processor or cheese grater
- Fondue set (optional)
Use a food processor to shred all the cheese. Toss the shredded cheese with cornstarch. Prepare your dipping choices (chop, cook, toast, etc).
Add the beer, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard to a large pan, preferably nonstick, over medium heat until simmering. Reduce heat to medium low.
Test the heat of the liquid by sprinkling in a small amount of cheese and stirring until it melts. Continue adding cheese a small handful at a time, stirring until integrated each time. Continue until all the cheese has been added. The mixture should be thick enough for dipping and smooth. (Too runny? Add a bit more cornstarch. Too thick? Add a splash more beer or lemon juice. Not well mixed? Increase the heat. Make these adjustments slowly, a little bit at a time, until you get the desired consistency).
Add garlic powder and a pinch of cayenne. Stir and transfer to fondue pot or any pot that can be balanced over a small candle. Enjoy hot!