Our friends at La Cave a Fromage advised us on what cheese combination to use in this fondue recipe. The French and Swiss cheese combination of Comte, Beaufort d’alpage and Vacherin Fribourgeoius produces the ultimate rich and pungent cheesy fondue that is perfect on a cold wintry evening.
The primary cheese in our fondue is Comte Reserve Marcel Petite. Comté is an ancient French cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. It requires a long maturing period, during which time its rind becomes a sandy brown colour and hardens, whilst the yellow interior develops a complex creamy buttery flavour with nutty notes. Comté is made in over 190 cheese dairies, known as the “fruitières” in the Jura region.
Marcel Petite’s Comté is regarded the best quality Comté, the cheeses mature on the side of a mountain at 1500m altitude in the Fort Lucotte de Saint Antoine, which he purchased in 1966. Marcel Petite has developed his own method of maturing Comté cheese. By using the naturally low temperatures of the stone fort to age the cheese he matures it more slowly, and for a longer period of time. This produces a cheese with a greater complexity of flavours from increased enzyme activity over a longer time period. In this recipe, the comté replaces the traditionally-used and similar tasting Gruyere cheese.
Vacherin Fribourgeois is a Swiss semi-soft cheese made with raw cow’s milk from the Fribourgeois breed of cows. These cows graze only on Alpine grass and wild flowers, which gives the Vacherin Fribourgeois a pleasant nutty flavour underpinned by notes of fresh hay and milk. The rind of the Vacherin has a very stinky aroma, but the overall flavour of the cheese is more subtle. This cheese gives the fondue a thick creamy texture and very pleasant taste of this Alpine cheese.
Beaufort is a firm, raw cow’s milk cheese, and is associated with the gruyère family. Another Alpine cheese, it is produced in Beaufort, in the Savoie region of the French Alps. The pale yellow cheese has a smooth and creamy texture and a distinct strong aroma. There are three versions of Beaufort that are produced – Beaufort, Beaufort d’Ete (Summer Beaufort) and Beaufort d’Alpage which is made in the mountain chalets. Its tendency to melt easily, in addition to it pairing well with white wine, makes it a popular choice for cheese fondue.
Kirsch (a type of cherry eau de vie/clear brandy) is an optional ingredient and add a more complex flavour to the fondue. As it is not completely essential it could be replaced with extra white wine if it is difficult to find. We found it in our local Waitrose.
Serving cubes of bread with this dish is a must but it’s nice to have a selection of dipping foods for variety. Etiquette dictates that you should put the food onto your plate with the dipping forks and eat it with a separate fork rather than eating the food directly from the fondue fork.
As the base of the fondue is white wine, this is a natural choice to serve with the dish. Some prefer a red but we found that the acidity in a German Riesling cuts through the richness of the cheese well. Additionally, serving acidic croutons such as chunks of apple, pear and gherkins helps to cut through the dish and pair quite well with a flowery Riesling.
Serves: Two as a main meal
Skill level: Easy
Equipment required: Fondue set, saucepan, knife
Prep time: 20 minutes to prepare, 15 minutes to heat and serve
1 garlic clove halved
1/2 pint of white wine (we opted for Riesling)
1 tsp lemon juice
300g Comte Reserve Marcel Petite
165g Beaufort d’alpage
125g Vacherin Fribourgeois
2 tsp cornflour
2 tsp Kirsch (optional)
Cubed bread to serve and any other food you would like to dip in, we opted for cubed apples and pears, gherkins, pickled onions, chorizo, and roasted mushrooms
Step 1: Rub the inside of your fondue pot with the garlic clove, this will stop the cheese from sticking to the pot whilst adding flavour to the fondue.
Step 2: Grate the cheese and cut your food for dipping into small bite-sized pieces.
Step 3: Heat the wine in a saucepan and add the lemon juice, heat until boiling and add then gradually add your grated cheese whilst stirring, until it’s all melted.
Step 4: Mix the Kirsch and cornflour together and add to the melted cheese, continue to cook until you have a nice smooth consistency and then transfer to the cheese fondue bowl.
Step 5: Serve with your bread and dipping foods and enjoy. When you get to the bottom of the fondue, you can leave a thin coating of cheese on the bottom of the fondue pot and reduce the flame, allowing the cheese to form into a brown crust, which can be broken into pieces and eaten. This crust is considered a delicacy in Switzerland.