(CNN) – The Swiss are famous for fondue, but their neighbors in Italy have their own take on this delicious, melted cheese dish.
The traditional Swiss version melts a variety of cheeses with wine and a bit of cornstarch for a smooth texture. Then the cheese mixture is placed in a bowl, rubbed with a piece of garlic and seasoned with nutmeg and black pepper.
But on the other side of the Alps, in the Valle d’Aosta region, Italians have their own version of fondue called fonduta.
Instead of Emmentaler and Gruyère, Italians use only one cheese: Fontina.
Fontina is a creamy semi-hard cheese with a light and nutty flavour.
“Italian fontina cheese from sweet-grass-fed cows high in these mountains makes fondue so delicious that it doesn’t need the white wine they add in France or Switzerland,” said Stanley Tucci.
“Oh, that’s so good,” said Tucci, dipping his bread into the warm pot. “Very delicious!”
(From left) Sommelier and local teacher Cecilia Lazarotto and Tucci share a meal of regional specialties from Valle d’Aosta at Alpage Restaurant.
(Valley Aosta Fondue)
If you want to add a gourmet touch, sample the fondue with fresh grated black truffles, which are in season from December to early March and are available in online specialty stores. As an alternative, try pre-planned truffle chips available online throughout the year.
Makes 2 servings
2 cups | 500 gm Fontina
2 cups | 500 ml milk
4 egg yolks
1 ¼ tablespoons | 10g all-purpose flour
black truffle chips, preferably fresh grated (optional)
Bain-marie or double boiler
Fondue gel fuel (if pot is not electric)
1. Begin by removing the outer rind of the fontina, then slice it into thin strips. Cut the fontina into cubes, transfer the cheese to a rectangular dish and pour the milk over it.
2. Strain the cheese and set aside the excess milk for later use (in step four). Put the cheese cubes in a saucepan. Fill a bath with water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the pot. This distance between the water and the food helps maintain a constant temperature and the food from overheating. Next, set saucepan on top, and cook fontina over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until cheese melts, 10-15 minutes. At first, you will see a mass, then the cheese will slowly melt and become more elastic.
3. As soon as you reach the desired consistency, pour in the yolks one at a time, then add the flour and mix constantly.
4. Add the remaining milk from step two as needed to make sure the consistency is smooth and creamy.
5. Stir well and cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, remove from heat and blend the cheese mixture.
6. Once you’re ready, pour the fondue into the fondue pot. If you are using a fondue pot with a stovetop, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparing the gel fuel and igniting it in the base under the pot that will keep the fondue warm and maintain a liquid consistency.
7. Serve the fondue immediately while still hot with boiled potatoes and toast.
8. Flavor fondue with truffle chips, if desired.
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