As promised in yesterday’s cozy winter bonfire post, sharing the most delicious fondue recipe (from our local foodie legend, Darrell Corti of Corti Brother’s who shared his father’s recipe with me). Corti Brothers is just up the street from our house in East Sacramento and my go-to grocer for speciality items. They have a great deli, amazing home-made ravioli, the best selection of Sacramento beers in town and just an over-all unique assortment of finds from around the world, curated by Darrell. As SF Gate described, this charming grocery store is like taking a step back in time (his father, Frank and uncle opened Corti’s in 1947, originally as an Italian grocery store.) It’s one of the iconic, family-run Sacramento gems that makes this city feel so small town.
Darrell says fondue is simple to prepare, but only as good as the cheese which is used. For best results, use only imported Swiss Emmenthaler and Gruyere (I had some help hunting these down!). Use good quality light, dry white wine for fondue. The wines should be fairly high in acid. He recommends a Colombard based wine, dry Chenin Blanc (I used Haarmeyer–made here locally), Pinot Blanc or Aligote.
Frank Corti | Fondue De Fromage
1 clove of garlic, cut in half
2 cups light dry white wine
1/2 lb Swiss Emmenthaler, shredded
1/2 lb Swiss Gruyere, shredded
1 loaf crusty French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp dry mustard
3 tblsp Kirsch (optional, but classic)
freshly ground nutmeg and white pepper to taste
The bread for fondue should have some crust on each cube. It can be either flattish ciabatta or a round baguette, but there should be some crust on at least one side. (I read over this part when I started chopping the bread–oops, didn’t realize he was so particular with the bread too!). Have a supply of bread cubes on the table and a small plate at each place for keeping a supply of bread ready to dip.
In preparing your fondue, it is crucial to apply correct heat. The heat should be hot enough to keep the fondue bubbling slowly, but not so hot that it causes the cheese to separate. You can melt the cheese in a heatproof earthenware pan directly over canned heat. If you use a metal pan, place it over simmering water.
Rub the sides and bottom of the fondue pot with the cut garlic. Add wine and heat slowly until bubbles form and slowly rise to the surface. Combine the two cheeses and if using, the cornstarch and mustard. Add cheese mixture to hot wine, a spoonful at a time. Stir slowly and continuously until all the cheese is blended into a smooth sauce. It should bubble very slowly. (The swiss insist it should be a figure eight pattern with a wooden fork.)
Stir in Kirch (vodka), a tablespoon at a time, and again bring to a slow boil. If heat gets too high at any time, the fondue may separate. Sprinkle with nutmeg and white pepper to taste. Take to table with bread cubes and adjust heat so that the fondue keeps bubbling slowly. Should fondue thicken too much, thin with a heated white wine.
Serves four. Accompany with the dry white wine used in preparation, a classic Swiss white, like Fendant or hot tea.