In honor of the great hard cider producers in our region, here’s a recipe for cheddar-cider fondue that I came up with last week, and which I have now added to my “I wish I’d put this in the book” file. It’s a reinterpretation of the classic fondue recipe found in The Joy of Cooking, only made with cheddar, hard cider, and apple brandy instead of the traditional French Gruyère, white wine, and kirsch. Enjoy!
New England Cheddar-Cider Fondue Recipe
Total time: 20 minutes; hands-on time: 20 minutes
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1 1/4 cups medium-dry hard cider, (I recommend local ciders from Farnum Hill in NH, West Country Winery in NH or Furnace Brook Winery in MA
1 pound Cheddar cheese, grated (you can also use Gruyère or Gouda)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons apple brandy or applejack
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Assorted accompaniments, such as crusty French bread; boiled fingerling potatoes; apple or pear slices; steamed cauliflower, broccoli, or green beans; roasted Brussels sprouts; or sausage slices
Rub the inside of a 3- to 4-quart pot with the garlic clove, then discard. Add the cider and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the cheese and nutmeg and stir with a wooden spoon until the cheese is melted. Don’t worry if it doesn’t blend with the cider, that will happen later.
In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch with the brandy. Add to the cheese mixture and stir until smooth, about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with accompaniments of your choice. Yield: 4 to 6 servings