Despite its status as a tired, dowdy party trick, Fondue remains a seriously delicious way to enjoy cheese. Artisanal Bistro has undoubtedly revived the lost art, offering two regular choices on their menu as well as a fondue of the day, all of which highlight the cheeses themselves in a deeply satisfying way. The classic blend features a mixture of Swiss Alpine cheeses Gruyère, Emmental, and Appenzeller, but this week the Associated Press published a recipe for a low-fat Cheddar and ale fondue that promises to mimic the creamy texture of the real thing using puréed white beans. Curious indeed.
In general I'm very leery of any recipe involving low-fat cheese. I've never tasted a low-fat cheese that left me wanting more. Indeed, it is the fat in cheese that gives it its characteristically smooth texture and full-bodied taste, and without it cheese tends to be rubbery and vapid. I'd much rather eat a smaller quantity of full-fat cheese than an appetite-quenching serving of low-fat cheese. Who's with me?
On the other hand, I recognize that cheese is almost laughably high in fat. A one-ounce serving of Cabot Cheddar, for instance, contains nine grams of fat, six of which are saturated. That's 30% of the recommended daily saturated fat intake. And I don't know about you, but if I'm eating fondue, I'm having a lot more than one ounce of cheese.
So along comes this recipe for low-fat fondue. Puréed white beans (great northern, navy, or cannellini) help make the fondue "extra thick and silky without needing additional cheese...While the beans do add a certain earthiness to the fondue, the sharp cheeses and the assertive taste of the ale provide a flavor backdrop that evens things out. Dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and a splash of hot sauce also help balance the flavors." Hmmm, how many flavors do we need to add to mask the bean flavor? I'm certainly skeptical, but I haven't tried the recipe (it just hit the wire yesterday) so I can't comment fully.
Anyone out there tried this? Is the texture OK? Something tells me the texture would be a bit too starchy/grainy, but I'm also willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Beans taste good, so I guess it's possible this recipe's author has really stumbled upon something great!