Betsy and I went to a very fun birthday party a few weeks ago that was a fondue party – great idea for a party. A few people were in charge of bringing large quantities of cheese and everyone else brought booze or things to dip in the cheese.
The standard fondue recipe is normally based on Gruyere or some other swiss cheese mixed with white wine and cooked until melted and smooth. It’s very good, but also a bit on the pricey side.
So, I thought it would be fun to try to come up with a fondue-ish dish that’s a bit easier on the wallet but still delivers in the flavor department.
The secret: Port wine cheese.
The second secret: Stout.
1) Pour stout into a medium pan and heat over medium heat.
2) Once stout is steaming, start whisking in port wine cheese in 3 batches. Once one batch is melted, add the next one.
3) Whisk the cheese regularly. It might look as if it is separating but eventually it will melt together with the stout and form a smooth dip.
4) Add nutmeg and turn heat down to medium-low.
5) Continue to simmer until fondue thickens, about 10 more minutes. Serve immediately with cubes of crusty bread. It reheats really well also.
Port Wine What?
Port wine cheese is not the most popular of cheeses and this is a huge travesty in my mind. Granted, it’s a bit on the processed side, but the ingredients aren’t all that bad.
It has things like cheddar cheese, cream, and yes… even port wine in it.
Normally, you just eat it at room temperature because it’s spreadable, but I figured it would be just as good melted in a big pot.
I made a bunch of this, but you could easily half the recipe.
Just for cost comparison, 8 ounces of port wine cheese will run you about $4 while 8 ounces of Gruyere will run you about A MORTGAGE PAYMENT.
Doing the Fondue
This can barely be called a recipe. Basically you just toss all the ingredients in a pot and whisk them until they are smooth and melted. Done.
I used a whole bottle of good stout. You’re saving some money on the cheese. Don’t use Miller Lite to make this.
Put this over medium heat and just start adding the port wine cheese in chunks until it’s melted.
A whisk helps to stir everything well.
As your port wine cheese melts, it will go through this phase where it looks like maybe it’s separating. Don’t fret. Just keep whisking and eventually it will combine with the stout and be smooth and delicious.
The only other ingredient in this fondue besides cheese and beer is fresh nutmeg. It adds a nice, subtle spice flavor to the fondue.
I guess it’s optional, but if you happen to have some, grate it in.
That’s pretty much all there is too it. Once your nutmeg is in, just keep simmering the cheese sauce until it’s the thickness that you want.
I simmered mine for probably ten minutes, whisking pretty regularly, and then called it good.
You can serve this with lots of stuff to dip, but cubes of good crusty bread were my personal favorite.
The nice thing about this fondue is that since you start with spreadable cheese, the fondue is actually useable even at room temperature.
This is not true for traditional fondue which turns into a big block of cheese if you take it off the burner for a few minutes.
I’m a huge fan of traditional fondue, but this was a really delicious (and cheap) alternative.
Even if you’re not a Wall Street Executive, now you too can enjoy the fun of dipping things in melted cheese!