(CNN) — The Swiss are famous for fondue, but their neighbors in Italy have their own take on this delectable, melted cheese dish.
The traditional Swiss version melts together a variety of cheeses with wine and a little bit of cornstarch for a smooth texture. Then the cheese mixture is put in a pot rubbed down with a cut garlic clove and seasoned with nutmeg and black pepper.
But on the other side of the Alps, in the region of Valle d’Aosta, the Italians have their own version of fondue called fonduta.
Instead of Emmentaler and Gruyère, the Italians use just one cheese: fontina.
Fontina is a creamy semi-hard cheese with a mild, nutty flavor.
“Italian fontina cheese from cows fed on sweet grass, high on these mountains, make the fondue so luscious that it doesn’t need the white wine they add in France or Switzerland,” Stanley Tucci said.
“Oh, my God, that is so good,” Tucci said, dipping his bread in the warm pot. “So yummy!”
(From left) Sommelier and local teacher Cecilia Lazzarotto and Tucci share a meal of regional specialties from Valle d’Aosta at Alpage Restaurant.
(Valle d’Aosta Fondue)
If you’d like to add a gourmet touch, top the fondue with freshly grated black truffles, which are in season from December to early March and available at online specialty stores. As an alternate option, try presliced truffle flakes, available online year-round.
Makes 2 servings
2 ¼ cups | 500 grams fontina
2 cups | 500 milliliters milk
4 egg yolks
1 ¼ tablespoons | 10 grams all-purpose flour
Black truffle flakes, preferably freshly grated (optional)
Bain-marie or double boiler
Fondue gel fuel (if the pot is not electric)
1. Start by removing the outer crust of the fontina, then slice it thinly. Cut the fontina into cubes and transfer the cheese to a rectangular baking dish and pour the milk over it.
2. Drain the cheese and set aside the excess milk for later (in step oven). Place the cubes of cheese in a saucepan. Fill a bain-marie with water and make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the saucepan. This space between the water and the food helps keep the temperature constant and the food from overheating. Next, place the saucepan on top, and cook the fontina over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the cheese is melted, 10-15 minutes. At first, you will see a mass, then slowly the cheese will melt and become more fluid.
3. Once you have reached the desired consistency, pour in the egg yolks one at a time, then add the flour and mix continuously.
4. Add the leftover 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 ready, for the fondue into the fondue pot. If using a fondue pot that has a burner, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparing and lighting gel fuel at the base below the pot that will keep the fondue warm and preserve its fluid consistency.
7. Serve the fondue immediately, while it’s still hot, with boiled potatoes and toasted croutons.
8. Flavor the fondue with truffle flakes, if desired.