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Gruyere and Cider Fondue

July 16, 2013

I love fondue almost as much as I love dumplings. There’s something about dipping pieces of food into warm and creamy cheese (or chocolate) that’s incredibly appealing and makes it all add up to more than the sum of its parts. Or maybe I just like tiny food, who knows! I finally purchased a real (read: not heated by a single tealight) fondue pot a couple of months ago and I used it at a friend’s house for chocolate fondue, but I hadn’t had the occasion to make cheese fondue yet. It’s more of a dinner party food, so it seemed silly to make it for just to two of us. But then I came across this recipe on Bon Appetit’s web site (printed in the March 2009 issue) and it sounded so good that I finally said “whatever” and made it for dinner. Hey, if you dip sausage, apples, and bread in melted cheese, all that’s missing is a vegetable to make it a complete meal, right? :)

Rather than the traditional wine, this fondue recipe uses hard apple cider as its alcohol component, along with apple cider vinegar and apple brandy (Calvados). We both thought the flavor was excellent, and it was a wonderful complement to the kielbasa, granny smith apples, and (of course) bread for dipping. Although I’m looking forward to trying all sorts of different cheese fondues in the future, I’ll definitely keep this one on hand too.

This recipe assumes you have a fondue pot that’s heated by a flame, so the directions instruct you to make the fondue on the stovetop and then transfer to the pot at the end. But if you have an electric fondue pot that provides adjustable even heat, you can make the cheese right in the pot at the table. Just follow the general instructions that came with your brand of pot for making a cheese fondue.

Gruyere and cider fondue

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 8  ounces kielbasa sausage, cut on the diagonal into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 4  cups coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 1 pound)
  • 1  tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1  cup hard apple cider
  • 1  tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2  tablespoons Calvados, applejack brandy, or poire Williams (clear pear brandy)
  • 2  Granny Smith apples, cored, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 1  baguette, cut into ¾-inch cubes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Heat heavy large skillet over high heat. Add kielbasa slices and sauté until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.
  2. Toss cheese and cornstarch in large bowl to coat. Bring hard cider and vinegar just to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low (mixture should be barely simmering). Add a handful of cheese to simmering cider mixture. Stir until cheese is melted. Add remaining cheese 1 handful at a time, stirring until melted between additions. Increase heat to medium and cook until fondue begins to bubble, stirring constantly. Stir in Calvados. Season to taste with pepper.
  3. Transfer fondue to pot. Set fondue pot atop stand; light candle or canned heat burner. Arrange sausage slices, apple slices, and bread cubes in bowls alongside fondue pot.

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