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Beer & Cheddar Fondue


Serves 6-8

Yields about 5 cups.

  • To learn more, read:
    The Rules of Melting Cheese
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 82

If fondue seems like a project, you might be surprised at just how easily it comes together. In fact, it's a perfect dish for casual entertaining, even on a busy weeknight. Just grab a fondue pot, set out a few dippers (see Serving Suggestions, below), and invite friends over to dig (or rather, dip) in.

  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 12 oz. Emmentaler cheese, coarsely grated (about 3 lightly packed cups)
  • 8 oz. extra-sharp white Cheddar, coarsely grated (about 2 lightly packed cups)
  • 4 oz. Gruyère, coarsely grated (about 1 lightly packed cup)
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard (such as Coleman’s)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds, coarsely ground in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle
  • 1-12-oz. can lager-style beer, preferably Budweiser
  • 3 Tbs. Amontillado sherry
  • Kosher salt
Amontillado, a medium-dry sherry, provides a nice contrast to the bitter beer and the sharp cheddar.

Melt the butter in a 1-1/2- to 2-qt. flameproof fondue pot over medium-low heat. (If you don’t have a fondue pot that’s flameproof, use a heavy, narrow saucepan.) Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until completely soft and beginning to caramelize, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the Emmentaler, Cheddar, and Gruyère with the cornstarch, mustard, and pepper.

Add the caraway seeds to the pot and stir to toast them slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the beer, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer to mellow the flavor of the beer, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the cheese mixture into the pot a large handful at a time, stirring each batch in a back and forth pattern so that the cheese doesn’t ball up as it melts. Continue adding and stirring until all of the cheese is melted, smooth, and thick, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain barely a simmer. Stir in the sherry and season to taste with salt. (If using a saucepan, transfer the fondue to a fondue pot.) Set the fondue pot over a low flame at the table to keep it warm. Serve with the dipping ingredients.

Serving Suggestions

What to dunk: You can make cheese fondue a more balanced meal by serving some or all of the following as dipping options: Sourdough or ciabatta bread cubes,  pear and apple slices, steamed carrots and cauliflower, boiled baby or fingerling potatoes, cornichons or baby pickles, grilled or broiled sliced sausage.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on eight servings, Calories (kcal): 380, Fat (kcal): 27, Fat Calories (g): 250, Saturated Fat (g): 17, Protein (g): 23, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8, Carbohydrates (mg): 6, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 1, Sodium (g): 450, Cholesterol (g): 90, Fiber (g): 0,

Photo: Scott Phillips

My whole family loves this recipe, and guests who ate it a few nights ago have requested a copy; that's why I'm back looking at it online. This cheese fondue is different from most I have encountered. All the others used wine and tasted, well, cheesy; this one is still cheesy, of course, but it has a greater depth of flavor that I think comes from caramelizing the onions and garlic, and using mustard, caraway seeds (which I hadn't anticipated liking), beer, and sherry. The dunking items we've liked best have been: bread, seedless grapes, ham cubes, apple chunks, and Genoa salami.

Loved this recipe. It was easy to make and delicious for a casual Friday night supper with friends. I found that 4 of us ate it all up. I also used grape tomatoes and broccoli (steamed) to dip in the fondue. We really enjoyed using other foods to dip in addition to the traditional bread cubes. Will make again.

Great fondue. Easy and fun to put together, and very tasty. Great way to spend an evening with friends.

I wasn't delighted with the results of this recipe. It was expensive to make. The results were a little over-strong and rather stringy, a little greasy.

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