Day 19 of 31 days of pumpkin and it’s time for more cheese. This time, let’s just have it straight up, shall we?
I’ll be honest. I had never made fondue before and this time was not exactly a 5 star success. But if you avoid my mistakes, yours will come out perfectly. The flavor of this fondue was great, but the consistency was not quite creamy enough. Can you tell in the photo? So, I’m going to spend time in this post explaining what can go wrong when making a fondue and how to avoid it.
Are you with me?
My tagline is “We risk disaster, so you don’t have to,” for a reason.
There are a lot of fondue recipes out there on the web and most of them are exactly the same. From well-known bloggers, to Food Network stars, the ingredient list goes like this:
½ lb grated Gruyere cheese (rind removed)
1/2 lb grated Emmentaler cheese (rind removed)
1 clove garlic
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
pepper and nutmeg to taste
Each ingredient (apart from the kirsch) plays a role in ensuring good, cheesy consistency. The cornstarch helps keep the cheese stable while it is melting, preventing it from separating into oil and protein. The lemon juice and wine also help keep the cheese from separating or from becoming stringy as it melts. I got all that right. My problem? There were probably two issues. One, I did choose a cheese other than Emmentaler and two, I think that my heat was too high.
First about the cheese I chose. There were a few differences in my ingredients list. For one, I wanted to add the flavor of onion, so I sautéed shallots first and added the wine and lemon juice to the shallots. Second, when I was at the market, I saw this cheese that I thought would be similar to Emmentaler, but have a subtler taste (it did). It was a French cheese, called Madrigal Cheese.It’s also called Baby Swiss and is made by Président Cheese.
It’s possible that this cheese doesn’t melt as smoothly as Emmentaler, but I think that the heat in the pan was probably more responsible for the lack of even melting.
I’m a bit frustrated because I other than those two changes, I followed the traditional directions to the letter. I added cornstarch to my shredded cheeses and tossed it to coat. I added small handfuls of cheese at a time and stirred constantly, like it was a risotto, but right from the get-go, the cheese did not melt smoothly. It retained these little lumps. It didn’t separate into big oily clumps, it just wouldn’t smooth out completely. I added more cheese to see if it would blend in, but it never did. It had to be the heat. It was a little high after sweating out the shallots and as I added more and more cheese, I kept it on medium thinking that I needed the cheese to melt quickly so it would it melt out these little lumps. I promise I’ll try again with Emmentaler and on lower heat and report back. What’s your experience of fondue been?
Cheese Fondue in a Pumpkin
1 small pumpkin
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
8 oz Madrigal Cheese
8 oz Gruyère Cheese
1 cup white wine
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 1/2 tsp cornstarch
Freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Cut top off of pumpkin and scoop out pulp and seeds. Brush inside with olive oil and throw in 2 crushed cloves of garlic. Replace top on the pumpkin bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, put the shredded cheeses in a bowl and added the cornstarch. Toss to coat the cheese evenly. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sautée until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. (You could skip the shallot step if you’re nervous about it being partially responsible for the not-so-perfect consistency of my recipe. From here on, it’s all traditional) Reduce heat to low. Add wine and lemon juice and mix with the onions. About 1/4 cup at a time, add the shredded cheese, stirring gently (don’t over stir or it will get stringy). Wait until it has melted completely before adding more cheese.
3. After all of the cheese is melted and incorporated, remove your hot pumpkin from the oven, pour in the cheese sauce and grate fresh nutmeg and pepper over the top. Add a dash of paprika as well for a little color punch. I served mine with cubed pears and apples, which rocked. Also serve with your favorite white wine. Mine is probably Viognier right now.