Who doesn’t love fondue? It’s easy to cook, it’s sociable, and it’s even good for you. Swiss cheese is particularly rich in mood-boosting vitamin B12 and zinc – making it a great cure for the winter blues
January can be a miserable month; its’ cold and dark, you have no money and too many post-Christmas pounds, and all the socialising of December means that you’ll probably going out less. It’s a recipe for winter depression.
In fact, the Helping Hand charity noticed such a surged in calls from depressed people in winter that it has come up with some unusual advice… eating cheese fondue.
Traditional Swiss cheese fondue is a good source of vitamin B12, which is linked with boosting energy levels and lifting spirits. It is also high in zinc, which is also believed to improve your mood.
Most importantly though, fondue is a group meal, to be shared with friends – which helps people to feel less isolated.
‘The idea is to combine eating with company as many people struggling with depression completely lose their appetite and suffer a sense of a complete lack of motivation,’ explains Klaus Ruetschi of the Helping Hand charity.
Ros Windsor of artisan cheesemonger Paxton and Whitfield agrees. “Fondue is a delicious dish to enjoy at this time of the year as it is full of flavour, warming and fun to make and share,” she says. Her top tips? “Ensure that you are using good quality cheese with strongly defined flavours otherwise you can be very disappointed with the end result.
“The classic way to make it is with French or Swiss Alpine cheeses but you can also make it with other cheeses. We’ve developed a recipe for a Stilton fondue, which is delicious with slices of fresh pear.”
“Fondue is warmth, it’s a bit like eating a hug,” says Bash Redford, founder of London’s only pop-up fondue restaurant, Forza Win(ter), which has diners clamouring for tickets and gorging on silky, runny cheese. “We do communal dining and fondue if the ULTIMATE in communal meals,” Redford explains, whose next fondue event is this weekend (16-17 Jan).
His recipe doesn’t use any wine or flour, which makes it lighter and more liquid but also intensifies the flavour of the cheese – perfect if you’re having a dry January.
Paxton and Whitfield’s Classic Fondue
This is the quintessential ski-chalet dish, best served with chunks of crusty bread to soak up the alcoholic, cheesy broth.
1 clove Garlic, cut lengthwise
1 Shallot, very finely diced
1/3 btl Dry white wine
1tbsp Cornflour (or plain flour is ok)
2tbsp Kirsch (optional)
550g Semi hard alpine cheese (like raclette)
250g Harder, stronger cheese (like Siwss gruyere, emmental or French comte)
All the cheese should be cut into small cubes
Rub the cut edge of the garlic clove around the inside of a heavy-based fondue pan to leave a fine coating.
Discard the rest of the garlic, pour in the wine and the shallot. Heat to a gentle simmer.
In a small bowl mix together the kirsch and the flour into a smooth paste.
Gradually add the cheese to the pan, stirring as it melts into the wine. Do not let the mixture come to the boil as it will split into oil and solids.
Once the cheese is all melted, add and stir in the flour paste, you should see the mixture thicken.
Transfer to the table to serve over an oil or gel burner to keep it hot at the table.
Created by Godminster Farm in Somerset, this very British fondue combines Cheddar and Brie as well as West Country cider.
2 tbsp Flour
250ml Thatchers Katy dry cider
3 fresh sage leaves
200g Godminster Cheddar
200g Godminster Traditional Brie
1 tsp English mustard
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the flour to form a roux. Cook for a minute over a low heat, being careful not to let the roux burn.
Pour in the cider, whisking vigorously until you have a smooth thickened sauce. Simmer for a couple for minutes and add the sage leaves and mustard, then reduce the heat to as low as possible.
Cut the cheese into small cubes. Begin to gradually add them to the hot cider sauce stirring well and making sure the cheese is fully melted before you add more. Once all the cheese is incorporated season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the fondue to a fondue bowl or eat straight from the pan.
Forza Win’s Fonduta
“Forget wine, flour, all the other stuff – let the cheese do the talking,” says Forza Win’ Bash Redford. “Our Italian-inspired fonduta is not as heavy as a traditional fondue, due to the lack of flour.”
1.5kg Fontal cheese (young fontina)
500ml Double cream
500ml Whole milk
Parmesan to taste
Nutmeg to taste
De-rind and cube 1kg of your cheese and scatter it into a high-sided roasting tray. Cover it with the milk (I’ve said 500ml, but just whatever covers it is best) set aside for as long as you possibly can (minimum 3 hours, up to 6) in a fridge, covered.
When your time is up, separate the two – the milk will be useful later, so keep it.
Take a deep saucepan, on a low heat, and add the 1kg of cheese and 100ml of the cream and a time, slowly stirring – it will feel like the two things take years to come together but it’s worth it when they do.
Keep adding the cream, even if you have a melted mass of cheese and some cream, with persistence they will come together.
Add a touch of the milk to thin the fonduta slightly, then some parmesan. Never let this boil, just keep it slowly simmering away.
The 500g of cheese you have set aside can be grated and used to make it more cheesy in consistency and taste, then transfer this to the fondue stove and serve with some British squashes or pumpkins, roasted with chilli and garlic.
Cast iron gourmand fondue, £120, www.lecreuset.co.uk
Fondue set, £54, www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk
This article appeared in Metro on 13 January 2015.