How do I love thee? Let me count the ways....I love thee on a cracker, in tacos, on bread delightfully grilled with sinful amounts of butter and a sprinkling of garlic powder, in, on and under potatoes, drowning macaroni with your greasy goodness, in salad, dressing, celery sticks and melted in a toasty tortilla, and even just shaved right off the block and stuffed in my round, fat little face. I think I was a milkmaid, or possibly a rat in a former life...cheese is one of the things I miss the most now that I'm cutting back.
For Christmas this year I said I was going to make a German feast, with all the usual trappings and not without the most important element, melted cheese. I have seen travel shows between the ever-increasing fund drives (pretty sure they're every other weekend now), and would someday like to go to Switzerland so I can go to a restaurant that serves cheese that you cook on this little iron thing on your very own table so you can scrape it up and eat it all melty-like. "Alps? There were mountains there??" Oh yum, how I love cheese.
So anyway, shit happens and things change, and now it does not appear we will be having fondue....which is more painful now that a friend has requested the recipe for holiday use. I may find an excuse to drop by when they are having dinner - maybe a QC check to make sure the thickness is correct, possibly to ensure that the bread cubes are properly toasted, or maybe just to see that the fondue forks are forky enough so a dipper is not lost in the maelstrom of cheesy delight....we can't have that. Maybe for New Years?? Sigh...it's just not in the cards, I will have to be content with the fabulous scalloped potatoes we will enjoy with our ham at our family feast....I have a petite block of Gruyere and Fontina to that end, and it WILL be delicious too!
This recipe came from the Rheinlander Restaurant in Portland - the one I also got the lentil soup recipe from I've already shared. I guess if you're a fondue snob, you will turn your surgically altered nose up at this - the cheese used is processed....but I say if it looks like cheese, smells like cheese, tastes like cheese, and makes fondue that is so good you'd swear it would make a dog turd taste good (no, I don't know for sure...you are welcome to test that premise yourself tho), it's cheese to me! Enjoy, and besides the bread cubes, be creative with your dippers....steamed veggies are excellent in it, and will help to balance out the constipation factor - every little bit helps!
5 C. processed Swiss/American Cheese (that is 20 ounces)
2 C. water
1 C. chablis or moderately dry white wine
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 T. butter
1/4 tsp. MSG (I suppose you could replace with salt if you are opposed to it)
Dash each nutmeg and white pepper (I've used black too)
3 T. cornstarch mixed with small amount of cold water
1/2 loaf each sourdough and dark rye, unsliced (good luck with the rye..more later)
Preheat oven to 325. Cube bread in 1-2" pieces, spread out on cookie sheet and set aside. Grate cheese, set aside. Bring water, wine, butter, garlic, MSG or salt, nutmeg and pepper to a boil in a large skillet or saucepan, add cheese one cup at a time, stirring until melted; whisk until smooth and no more cheese lumps. Turn heat down to medium low and add cornstarch/water mixture, whisking until smooth, and cooking a couple minutes until thick enough for dipping - if not thick enough to coat bread chunks nice and thick, you can make more cornstarch/water slurry and add until it's as thick as you like. If it gets too thick, use water or wine to thin a bit, whisking to smooth after each addition. Remove from burner and place in fondue pot or over double boiler with hot water to keep warm and fluid...it thickens when it cools. Put bread cubes in oven and heat maybe 10 minutes....they should be lightly crispy but not browned. Serve with a basket of bread cubes, a tray of steamed veggies, or whatever you feel like dipping in it's wonderful cheesy deliciousness. I think squares of grilled cheese sandwich would be juuuuust right....oh BABY!
A couple tips: I get my cheese at Costco - those big 5# packages of food service slices are da bomb; if you don't have access, I've seen a box of cheese that also works in larger grocery stores, but it's been so long I don't know if it's still out there...seems to me the box was blue? Also, rye bread is not a deal breaker, but it is just so damn good with this - finding it unsliced is akin to uncovering the Holy Grail when digging with a plastic pail and shovel at the beach. BUT....if you go to the bakery at Fred Meyer, and ask nicely, you can usually order a full or half loaf of a beautiful dark rye for I think 5.99 for the full and quite big loaf...it comes frozen and you just throw it in the oven. I've done that and cut it in half, saving part for the next time. Good luck, and happy dipping....and rub some butter on your chin in case you have an errant flow hit you there...it'll slide right off onto your shirt for later snacking!