One-Pot Wonders

Porcini Cheese Fondue - à la Suisse

February 12, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I am going to be a little Swiss about this. This recipe is a labor of love born from living for 10 years in the Geneva countryside. I was married there, and my children were born there, so Switzerland holds a special place in our hearts. I confess that when I arrived on the heels of studying cooking in Paris, I was at first shocked by the lack of choice and rigidity in traditional Swiss cuisine. But with time I adjusted and learned to appreciate the rustic simplicity of the food.

Cheese fondue was a staple, served in every auberge and café. Bubbling pots of cheese were served family-style at the table, accompanied by platters of air-dried beef and bowls of pickled onions and cornichons. Depending on the region, there were subtle nuances in flavor, dictated by the local cheese or, more specifically, what the cows were nibbling on in the hills. This was austere mountain food, born from rugged alpine life, where every mountain chalet had a cold room which stored home-crafted provisions to last a family through a winter. Nothing was wasted - including stale bread.

When we moved from Geneva to London, I began to make my own fondue more frequently. This recipe is a classic cheese fondue that I have tweaked with time due to geography. For instance, kirsch was hard to find and quite expensive in Northern Europe, so I substituted Calvados or Poire William. A fan of strong flavors, I leave the garlic in the cheese rather than remove it. The bread should be a dense peasant or levain style bread, at least one-day old to ensure cheese absorption. And, most importantly, I use the best quality aged Swiss-origin or French alpine cheese I can get my hands on. My favorites are a mix of aged Gruyère and Emmental. Finally, this recipe provides the optional addition of porcini to the cheese (which I strongly recommend) - another traditional way to serve fondue in Switzerland. - TasteFood —TasteFood

Test Kitchen Notes

Yum, yum! This was a really tasty fondue, quite strong in alcohol, however the cheese and porcini mushrooms stood up to it well. The recipe was clearly written and came together really quickly and easily. I used Sauvignon Blanc and TasteFood's recommended and 2/3 gruyere and 1/3 emmental. I thoroughly enjoyed it! —Victoria Ross

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons Calvados or Poire William
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound grated alpine cheese such as Gruyère, Emmental, Comté. (I use 2/3 Gruyere and 1/3 Emmental or Comte)
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water until reconstituted, drained, squeezed dry and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 loaf day-old peasant bread, cut in 3/4 inch cubes
  1. Have all of your ingredients ready before you begin. Once you start, the fondue will come together quickly, and during this time it must be constantly stirred.
  2. Combine Calvados, cornstarch, salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and nutmeg in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the cornstarch. Set aside.
  3. Add wine and garlic to a large heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat until tiny bubbles form, giving the wine a fizzy appearance without bringing to a boil.
  4. Add cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly until each handful is melted before adding the next - do not let the fondue boil.
  5. Once cheese is added, continue stirring one minute - do not let the fondue boil.
  6. Stir in cornstarch. Continue stirring until mixture thickens to fondue consistency. (I find that some cornstarch brands thicken more easily than others. If your fondue remains thin, add 1 more tablespoon cornstarch diluted with 2 tablespoons white wine.)
  7. If using porcini, stir the mushrooms into the cheese at this point.
  8. Remove from heat. Pour cheese into a warm fondue pot. Serve immediately with lots of freshly ground black pepper.
  9. Tip: Use the bread cubes on fondue forks to stir the fondue at the table. Avoid letting the fondue come to a boil.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • hardlikearmour
  • deanna1001
  • mirandalynnw
  • Midge
  • Lizthechef

28 Reviews

hardlikearmour April 24, 2011
This was a huge hit at my fondue and hors d'oeurves party last night. Was gobbled up. Roasted fingerling potatoes made an awesome dipping vehicle.
TasteFood April 24, 2011
So happy you liked it! The potatoes are perfect.
hardlikearmour April 24, 2011
I'd say "like" is an understatement!
deanna1001 February 25, 2011
Now I know what we're eating during the Academy Awards! Thanks so much. Many years ago I worked at a little restaurant called La Fondue. Haven't either eaten it or made it in years, but this recipe brought on an intense longing for it.
mirandalynnw February 18, 2011
TasteFood, thank you for sharing! Just ignore those that try to argue with you on these boards, its really goes against every reason why we are on here! I think that everyone is just searching for something yummy to eat and new ways to do it with the supplies at hand. Thanks again!!!
TasteFood February 18, 2011
You're welcome, and thanks so much for your comment!
Midge February 15, 2011
What a lovely headnote and photo. I've never been much into fondue but you've inspired me!
TasteFood February 18, 2011
Thanks, Midge - I hope you try it!
Lizthechef February 15, 2011
Great headnote - makes me want to pack up and move to Europe! Recipe and photo are both winners. Thumbs up!
TasteFood February 15, 2011
Thanks, Liz. I want to move too :)
rabino February 14, 2011
I am sure your fondue is delicious. BUT I am afraid you got it wrong.... In Geneva it will be VERY hard to find a restaurant that will put comte or emmental in a fondue. If you have ever really either lived or even visited the region.. you would know that.
TasteFood February 14, 2011
That's true, but I didn't call this a fondue genevoise. This is a recipe that, as described in the headnote, is inspired by my life in Switzerland and which I have tweaked with time and changes in geography. In that, I use my two favorite Swiss cheeses in my adaptation of a traditional fondue recipe - Gruyere and Emmental. When I have found it difficult at times to get decent versions of either of those 2 types, I've used a good French Comte as an alternative.
Greenstuff February 14, 2011
I think, rabino, that you’re making the mistake of pushing for the authentic rather than doing what TasteFood has done, adapt to circumstance. While she lived in Switzerland, she ate fondues with not only local cheeses but seasonal ones—I love remembering the taste of summer flowers and greens in the butter and cheese, and she does too. But then she moved, had to make her own fondue, and had to make do. More than forty years ago we were making fondues from Gruyère plus Emmentaler in the States. We knew that they weren’t from the same region, but they were the best we could do. My mother even used domestic U.S. factory Swiss—though she was the maybe only person I’ve ever met who could to that and not have the cheese separate—that’s probably why TasteFood is still advocating mature alpine cheeses, just not local ones. If you don’t live in the U.S., you’ll probably be surprised to learn that Comté is often marketed as “French Gruyère.” It’s not authentic, but it’s closer than the U.S. factory cheese from 1965 that my mother managed to make work.
kmartinelli February 14, 2011
Love the recipe, and the story behind it! Thanks for sharing.
Greenstuff February 13, 2011
Forgive me for the niggle, but I don’t think Comté comes under your category of “Swiss-origin cheese.” Doesn’t all Comté come from France? That said, I also use it, and I make another French substitution—the wine. I really like Swiss wines, and I understand that their acidity helps keep the cheese from separating. But most places I’ve lived, Swiss wines are rare and overpriced. So my current usual is Apremont, Abymes, or something else the French alpine region, the Savoie. Wines from the Savoie have become much more widely available in the last 10 years than they used to be, and some of them are reasonably priced.
TasteFood February 13, 2011
You are absolutely right. I should change that to alpine cheese. I never used Comte until we moved back to the US and found it to be a good alternative to Swiss cheeses.
gingerroot February 12, 2011
This sounds amazing. I have often thought I could live on cheese and bread alone, and your recipe might be the ultimate, especially with the porcini. What a beautiful photo.
TasteFood February 14, 2011
Thanks, gingerroot!
hardlikearmour February 12, 2011
Love the use of the Poire William! This sounds decadent and delicious.
TasteFood February 14, 2011
Both the Poire William and Calvados add a great flavor. Thanks for your comment!
dymnyno February 12, 2011
Wonderful recipe! I love the use of porcini in the fondue.
TasteFood February 14, 2011
Thanks, Mary. I like the porcini, too.
mrslarkin February 12, 2011
This sounds fantastic. Gorgeous photo too!
TasteFood February 14, 2011
Thanks, mrslarkin!
Cookin C. February 12, 2011
It is a tradition of ours to make cheese fondue every New Year's Eve and share it with friends. This version, with the calvados and porcini mushrooms, sounds fantastic. I am bookmarking to try it very soon (not waiting until next Dec. 31st).
TasteFood February 14, 2011
I hope you like it!
Sagegreen February 12, 2011
This is my other favorite fondue direction! Yours sounds wonderful! We used to make a Swiss fondue for Christmas eve. I really like your suggestion of Poire William. We had used kirsch.
TasteFood February 14, 2011
And I love your use of beer!