Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cheddar and Cider Fondue

With all this snow we might as well be in Switzerland so why not give in to the sub-artic temperatures and make a warming fondue? Interestingly I found when I was researching my cheese book (Fiona Beckett's Cheese Course) that cider was just as good a base for a fondue as wine and British cheeses like Cheddar worked just as well as the conventional Gruyère. So here's my West Country version from the book.*

The key thing to remember about a fondue is to have your cheeses at room temperature before you start, to take the pan off the heat before adding the first batch of cheese and to stir in a zig zag motion rather than round and round (which makes the fondue more likely to separate). Once you’ve got the knack, it’s simplicity itself.

Cheddar and Cider Fondue
Serves 2-3

About 425g finely sliced or coarsely grated cheese for example 150g mature Cheddar, 150g Double Gloucester and 125g Somerset Brie, all with the rinds removed
2 tsp potato flour or cornflour
175ml dry but fruity cider (I used Sheppy’s Dabinett)
1 tbsp Somerset Cider Brandy or Calvados
Freshly ground white or black pepper
Crusty brown rolls, cut into cubes and apple wedges to serve

You will also need a cast iron fondue pan or saucepan and a burner

Toss the sliced or grated cheese with the cornflour. Leave until it comes to room temperature. Start off the fondue on your cooker. Pour in the cider and heat until almost boiling. Remove from the heat and tip in about a third of the cheese. Keep breaking up the cheese with a wooden spoon using a zig-zag motion as if you were using a wire whisk. (Stirring it round and round as you do with a sauce makes it more likely that the cheese will separate from the liquid).

Once the cheese has begun to melt return it over a very low heat, stirring continuously. Gradually add the remaining cheese until you have a smooth, thick mass (this takes about 10 minutes, less with practice) If it seems too thick add some more hot cider. Add the cider brandy or Calvados and season with pepper (preferably white, as the grains won’t show). Place over your fondue burner and serve with small bite-size chunks of wheatmeal or granary bread rolls. Use long fondue forks to dip the bread in, stirring the fondue to prevent it solidifying. Have wedges of eating apples on hand to refresh you in between mouthfuls.

What to drink: A dry or medium dry cider will go perfectly with this.

You can buy a signed copy of Fiona Beckett's Cheese Course direct from Ryland Peters & Small at the special price of £16.99

Photograph by Richard Jung.



Anonymous said...

Fondue ... One of my favourite winter meals and this one looks amazing. I have never tried fondue with cider but that should be on every restaurant's menu!

Fiona Beckett said...

It works really well Mathilde - more flavour than character than white wine I'd venture to say ;-)

James B said...

Never actually had a cheese fondue before. Sounds different using cider, but I can imagine how that would work with the cheddar!

Fiona Beckett said...

It's sooo good, James. You have to try it!

Karen and Mark said...

Timely post Fiona. The missus recently returned home from a carboot with a fantastically kitch electric Fondue Set, circa 1970's and unused. Kisses all round for anyone who drops their bread in the cheese...

Fiona Beckett said...

I've never heard that one, Karen and Mark. Good excuse anyway ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Fiona,
This recipe sounds so good to me! As I am planning to extend my restaurant menu in the evenings with Cheese Fondues only, this is the next recipe I am looking for.
A question: is there any particular cheddar you would recommend, (like Dubliner???) Which one is the top 1 for this recipe? Will Bulmers cider do as well?
kind regards, Margaret Kerssens, co. Kerry