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Cheese Plus Divulges Three Fondue Recipes

Call it retro or call it trendy (witness the oddly-named Fondue Cowboy that opened last year in SoMa), there's nothing better for staving off the winter chill than a big pot of gooey, melty, boozy cheese set out for dipping. Luckily, you don’t have to go outside—or even own a fondue set—to whip up a batch. Cheesemonger extraordinaire Samantha Chertoff, from Russian Hill’s beloved Cheese Plus, gives us the scoop.

To make fondue at home, choose a heavy-bottomed pot (like cast iron or enamel); if you don’t have one, you can use a double boiler or a pot set over a pan of boiling water. The key is to melt the cheese and wine slowly, over even heat, so it doesn’t scorch on the bottom. Stir with a wooden spoon or a wire whisk. Also, use a good wine (if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it) and don’t skimp on the quality of the cheese. Serve any of these versions with bread or roasted potatoes.

Classic Swiss Fondue
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 lb Gruyer
1/2 lb Emmantaler
1/2 lb Appenzellar, Raclette, Fontina or Parmigiano Reggiano
1 clove garlic
2 cups dry white wine
Pepper to taste

In a bowl, combine the grated cheeses with the cornstarch. Heat pan on medium-low heat. Slice the garlic clove in half and rub the cut side on the pan until coated. Add wine and cook 2 to 3 minutes, heating it to below boiling to cook off some alcohol. To the wine, add cheese mixture in handfuls. Stir to melt, making sure to keep heat low to medium. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more cheese. If it’s too dry, add a bit more wine.

Goat Cheese and Herb Fondue
1/2 lb Tomme Chevre de Muscadet (or any other semi-firm, creamy goat cheese)
1/2 pound Asiago Fresco
2 teaspoons Peppercorn Romano
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 clove garlic
1 cup white wine
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped chives

In a bowl, combine the grated cheeses with the cornstarch. Heat pan on medium-low heat. Slice the garlic clove in half and rub the cut side on the pan until coated. Add wine and cook 2 to 3 minutes, heating it to below boiling to cook off some alcohol. To the wine, add cheese mixture in handfuls. Stir to melt, making sure to keep heat low to medium. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more cheese. If it’s too dry, add a bit more wine. When it’s done, remove from heat and add the chives.

Smoky Pork Fondue
If the mixture gets too curdy, add a small amount of heavy cream to smooth out this fondue.

2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 lb aged Cheddar (such as Grafton 2-year raw milk Cheddar)
1/2 lb Emmentaler
1/4 lb Gruyere
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 cup minced tasso ham or chorizo
1 cup brown ale

In a bowl, combine the grated cheeses with the cornstarch. Heat pan on medium-low heat. Slice the garlic clove in half and rub the cut side on the pan until coated. Heat oil in the pan. Wait until oil is hot, then add minced pork. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, allowing the pork to crisp a bit. Once crispy and aromatic, add the cup of beer. Simmer for 2 to 3 additional minutes before adding the cheese.