(CNN) — The Swiss are known for fondue, but their neighbors in Italy have their own take on this delectable melted cheese dish.
The traditional Swiss version fuses a variety of cheeses with wine and a little cornstarch for a smooth texture. Then the cheese mixture is put in a jar, rubbed with a chopped garlic clove and seasoned with nutmeg and black pepper.
But on the other side of the Alps, in the Valle d’Aosta region, the Italians have their own version of fondue called fonduta.
Instead of Emmentaler and Gruyere, the Italians only use one cheese: Fontina.
Fontina is a creamy semi-hard cheese with a mild, nutty taste.
“Italian fontina cheese from cows fed on sweet grass, high on these mountains, makes the fondue so sumptuous that it doesn’t need the white wine they add in France or Switzerland,” said Stanley Tucci.
“Oh, my God, that’s so delicious,” Tucci said, dipping his bread into the warm pan. “So delicious!”
(From left) Sommelier and local teacher Cecilia Lazzarotto and Tucci share a meal of regional Valle d’Aosta specialties at Alpage Restaurant.
(Aosta Valley Fondue)
To add a gourmet touch, garnish the fondue with freshly grated black truffles, which are in season from December through early March and are available at online specialty stores. As an alternative option, try pre-cut truffle flakes, which are available online all year round.
Makes 2 servings
2 ¼ cups | 500 grams of fontina
2 cups | 500 milliliters of milk
4 egg yolks
1 ¼ tablespoon | 10 grams of all-purpose flour
Black truffle flakes, preferably freshly grated (optional)
Bain-marie or double boiler
Fondue gel fuel (if the pan is not electric)
1. Start by removing the outer crust of the fontina, then cut it into thin slices. Cut the fontina into cubes and place the cheese in a rectangular baking dish and pour over the milk.
2. Drain the cheese and set the excess milk aside for later (in step four). Place the cheese cubes in a pan. Fill a bain-marie with water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the pan. This space between the water and the food ensures that the temperature remains constant and that the food does not overheat. Then place the pan on top and cook the fontina over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the cheese has melted, 10-15 minutes. First you will see a mass, then the cheese will slowly melt and become more liquid.
3. Once you have reached the desired consistency, pour in the egg yolks one at a time, add the flour and keep stirring.
4. If necessary, add the remaining milk from step two to make sure the consistency is smooth and creamy.
5. Stir well and cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, remove from the heat and mix in the cheese mixture.
6. Once ready, pour the fondue into the fondue pot. If using a fondue pan with a burner, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparing and lighting gel fuel at the base under the pan that will keep the fondue warm and maintain its liquid consistency.
7. Serve the fondue immediately, while it is still hot, with boiled potatoes and toasted croutons.
8. Season the fondue with truffle flakes if desired.