Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue

I love the concept of fondue because it’s very much a social dining experience. There’s no bonding experience quite like having a group of people gather around a pot of melted cheese. But for some reason it seems to be a lost art. I think the problem is a lot of people try to make it, but realize it’s more than just melted cheese so they give up. Or they think they need a fondue set to make it. I’m going to address both of those problems in this blog post, sharing tips for achieving the creamiest fondue, regardless of whether or not you own a fondue set.

Firstly, it’s important to use grated cheese. I think it’s pretty obvious, but grated cheese results in a quicker, smoother fondue. Fortunately, you can find most any cheese grated nowadays. But it you are unable to get the grated version of your favorite cheese, I recommend sticking it in the food processor to save time.

Secondly, coat the grated cheese in cornstarch. The cornstarch protects the proteins and the fat in the cheese from breaking down and becoming clumpy and lumpy. Some recipes use flour, but I think that changes the taste of the fondue, making it more starchy. That being said, if you don’t have cornstarch you can substitute flour.

Thirdly, keep the heat low. If you start with the temperature too high, your fondue will get stiff. It takes patience, but it’s one of the most important tips! If you’re able to measure the temperature, it should be around 140 for 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fourthly, the acid in the wine is very important because the tartaric acid also helps keep the cheese proteins from breaking down and prevent clumping. Citric acid in lemon juice also works, but it’s best to have a combination of the two. You don’t need to buy an expensive wine because it won’t affect the taste much when you cook it. But keep in mind it should be a dry white wine for classic fondue.

Fifthly, slowly add the cheese. This helps with the melting process and once again helps prevent the fondue’s biggest enemy, clumping!

Now that it’s time to make the fondue, what are you going to put it in? There are several very good options if you do not own a fondue set.

You can make it in a slow cooker. The constant low heat is actually really great for making fondue and keeping it warm. I recommend making sure the pot is hot though before you add the ingredients.
The indirect heat of a double boiler also works really well.
Serve your fondue in a cast iron skillet. A cast iron skillet retains heat well. It will just be harder to maintain a constant temperature.
Essentially, the fondue set I have is just a ceramic bowl and a tera light. You could easily make your own version of a similar contraption.

Once your fondue is made, you can always use wooden skewers instead of special little dipping forks. Some good options for dippers are cubed bread, sausage, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, apples, potatoes, or anything else your brain can imagine.

Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue

  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

  1. Rub garlic cloves on inside of fondue pot until well-coated
  2. Add white wine and heat on medium until steaming
  3. Add spinach and artichoke hearts and continue to heat until spinach starts to wild
  4. Toss cheese with cornstarch until cheese is well-coated and add to pot one handful at a time on low heat.
  5. Stir and continue to add cheese until cheese is melted completely.
  6. Add lemon juice, salt, and white pepper
  7. Keep in pot on low heat until ready to serve
  8. If fondue thickens too much, you can add a splash of wine to loosen it a bit

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