For the last few years, it has become tradition to spend Christmas Eve at my brother & sister in-law’s house in New Orleans. Over the years, I have made too many dishes to bring Like, four. – Why did I bring 4, when it is a potluck, and everyone is bringing a dish? And these are some impressive home cooks, and sometimes professional chefs. They were all good, all delicious, all were eaten…but it was just too much. Over the last year, I have realized that I was doing this in an effort to prove (to myself, mainly), that I can still do all that I could once do. But, overcompensation is physically draining. Physical exhaustion and fatigue end up draining your mental and emotional reserves, too, straining relationships, jobs, etc. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s hard to accept that life has placed a few impositions and restrictions on your life.
2015 was a year of acceptance, and, moving forward.
In that spirit, I resolved to do one dish, but do it well.
The week before, a friend had spotted Comte’ cheese priced at a deep discount and told me about it. I brushed it off, didn’t have time to run there, didn’t really need it. But, then I started thinking about Christmas Eve and my resolve to just make ONE dish, and make it well: Fondue.
The next weekend, I made it to that store, and of course, no Comte’ in the house. But, they had several types of cheeses from A Dutch Masterpiece cheese manufacturers, all priced about 60% off. It’s not like cheese really goes bad, right? So I stocked up on 2 pounds of a few types, mainly the Rembrandt and Vermeer. These cheeses are delicious, warm, buttery, and nicely nutty.
On Christmas Eve, I packed up the ingredients and headed off to work in the morning, New Orleans at night. Only I forgot the little crockpot I had borrowed.
Even though my brother in law said he’d never made fondue, he had all the necessary equipment. Vintage warming tray, a beautiful vintage fondue pot, as well a few fondue forks.
I followed the basic fondue instructions from Serious Eats, because these guys always steer you in the right direction.
My few slight changes…
- I did include a few leftover pieces of brie and Gouda lurking in the fridge.
- I used an Italian Pinot Grigio with it.
- Instead of adding the cornstarch-coated cheese directly into the warm wine, I added a little cold wine to the cheese and cornstarch to dissolve the cornstarch so it wouldn’t seize up before dissolving.
Good cheese is pretty expensive, it was the first time I’d made fondue, and I did not want to take any chances on a lumpy or separated fondue.
This fondue turned out very good. The consistency was perfect, the taste was great, and it never “broke” on the warming tray. I would definitely make it again.
Fondue may sound fancy and difficult, and many may say that it’s too expensive! But, with a few good ingredients and minimal effort, you will be well-rewarded.
Note: there is lots and lots of information about best cheeses for fondue. If you’re not sure where to start, a good place to browse fondue ideas is to browse fondue restaurant menus, like The Melting Pot’s. This is another good resource on making fondue from The Splendid Table.