Cheese fondue is one of the great melted-cheese dishes of the world, and it couldn't be simpler—but getting it right requires paying attention to a few key points. In this recipe, a combination of Emmentaler and Gruyère are melted together into a white wine base, then spiked with lemon juice and, optionally, kirsch.
Why this recipe works:
- A combination of Emmentaler and Gruyère produces a not-too-expensive fondue with a rich, delicious flavor that's not too funky.
- Lemon juice helps stabilize the emulsion of melted cheese and wine, while providing a bright flavor to balance the dairy-fat richness.
- Keeping the heat low while melting in the cheese prevents the fondue from breaking.
- 1 medium clove garlic, cut in half
- 1 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, plus more as needed
- 1/2 pound Emmentaler cheese, grated
- 1/2 pound Gruyère cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground white or black pepper
- Toasted bread cubed and/or lightly blanched vegetables, for dipping
Rub cut faces of garlic cloves around the inside of a fondue pot, double boiler, or stainless steel mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water (do not allow bowl to come into direct contact with the water). Add wine and heat until steaming. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together both cheeses with cornstarch until evenly coated.
Working over low heat, add cheese 1 handful at a time, stirring until mostly melted before adding next handful. Continue until all cheese is melted into the wine, forming a smooth, glossy melted cheese sauce, about 10 minutes;it is very important that the fondue stay below a simmer once you start adding the cheese, or there's a risk it could break. Stir in lemon juice and kirsch, if using, until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. If not already in a fondue pot, transfer fondue to a fondue pot to keep it warm and melted at the table. Serve with toasted bread cubes and lightly blanched vegetables for dipping. If fondue begins to thicken too much, add a small splash of wine to loosen it.