Italy’s delicious version of cheese fondue
“Enough already!!!”, I hear you screaming. “We can’t take any more of your cheese recipes!!!” Well, come on now….just one more……OK….honestly, why there’s yet another cheese post is because I had to use up the fridge-full of cheese I got from Italy last time we were there , when I succumbed to a manic fit of cheese-hoarding. I should probably go and see someone about that, or join Cheese-hoarders Anonymous (“Hi, my name is Lisa, and it’s been 2 weeks since I bought cheese….”).
Today’s recipe is similar to Swiss and French fondue, but is made without wine (now, don’t walk away just because it’s got no wine in it!), and is eaten in smaller quantities than the more famous fondue. In Piedmont, it is often eaten as a first course, although it can also be a main with vegetables on the side (you can just call it Signora Versatile!).
When is the best time to eat fonduta?
Fonduta is best eaten when it’s freezing cold outside, and you’re sitting at a rustic wooden table placed strategically near a roaring open fire, with a good glass of red wine in your hand and amidst great company. Well, actually you don’t need any of those things to eat it really, but just close your eyes and imagine swirling snow outside when you’re eating it and you’ll get a comfy, warm glow inside you.
why it is better to own a goldfish rather than a maturing wheel of cheese
Fontina cheese from Val d’Aosta is made from cow’s milk and is quite pungent and strong-tasting, so if you manage to get hold of some, wrap it well when you store it in the fridge! According to the powers-that-be, Fontina from this valley cannot be called “Fontina” unless the milk is used whole, and used within two hours of the milking taking place. Those farmers must be very well-organized! Once the cheese is made, it must be left on a shelf in a cave for 3 months, and turned and brushed to remove mould every single day. I have to say that this is a pretty high-maintenance cheese! If you want to go away for a weekend, it would be harder to find someone to look after the cheese than to dog-sit. Imagine saying, “So, here’s the key. When you come in just turn over 100 wheels of cheese and give them a brush, and while you’re at it, and a kiss to make them feel loved….”
When I made this, we ate it with steamed asparagus spears as a main dish. It was VERY good!
Travel photo of the week
The cheese used in this recipe comes from the Val d’Aosta, which is a beautiful mountainous area in the north of the Piedmont region of Italy, where they have many delicious non-salad, non-weight-loss food specialties. Let’s just say that if you’re on a diet, it’s not the best place to go! So, the travel photo of the week is from this area. When you see all those lovely flowers, you can understand why Fontina cheese tastes so good after the cows munch on them!
I have written that the recipe below can be for 4 – 6 people. That depends on whether you want to make it as a first course or a main dish. If you cannot get hold of a chunk of Fontina, at a pinch you could try it with Gruyere, though I can’t guarantee the results……if you try this, let me know how it goes!
By Lisa Watson
Fonduta (Italy’s Version of Cheese Fondue)
- 400 g Fontina cheese
- 400 ml Milk 1 3/4 cups
- 25 g Butter 1 Tbsp
- 1 Tbsp Flour
- 4 Egg yolks
- Pepper to taste
- Three Hours before cooking: Cut the crust off the Fontina cheese and slice it into medium-thick slices. Layer the slices in a high-sided dish and pour the milk over the top. If the cheese is not covered, add more milk until it is. Leave for at least 3 hours.
- Take the cheese out of the milk and put it in a heavy bottomed pot with the butter and flour.
- Heat it on a low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon.
- Separate the egg yolks and whites. (You can use the egg whites for some other delicacy).
- When the cheese is almost all melted, add 200ml of the milk used to soften the cheese, and stir it in.
- Mix the egg yolks together, then add them all at once to the cheese mixture, stirring all the time.
- DO NOT LET THE MIXTURE BOIL!! Stir continuously until the fonduta becomes thick and creamy. This process is VERY slow and can take between 15 and 30 minutes. Try to be patient and keep stirring…….It is done when it thickens to the consistency a little thicker than custard.
- You can pour the finished product into individual serving bowls to be eaten with a spoon. Sprinkle cracked black pepper, or grate truffle over the top for an added extra kick.