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Trail Chef: Easy, Cheesy Fondue

Dip into a tasty, "no utensils to clean" meal.

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While making a list of my backcountry do’s and don’ts, I generally leave messy and elaborate meals on the don’t list. Fondue has always seemed like a meal best suited for gourmet-only dinner parties. Though it made a splash in the 70s, this dish dates much further back (and surfaced in much harsher conditions) than the modern American family’s dinner table. Swiss peasants from the 18th century are among the first to stir up a cheesy pot. The word itself comes from the French verb fondre, meaning “to melt.” During the long and bitter Alps winters, the villagers needed a warm meal made of ingredients that could survive the cold climate. Their solution: wine, bread, and cheese. 

Because it was originally intended to be eaten without utensils (apparently there was a lack of cutlery in the mountains) and to bring folks together around a shared source of heat, fondue makes the perfect backcountry meal. Stale bread and sun-melted cheese won’t be a problem with this savory dish. Try bringing your next dinner party gourmet into la forêt, with this delicious recipe. Feel free to embellish it with your favorite add-ons. And don’t worry, they taste so good, you’ll fight over who gets to clean the pot!

—Alex Geller

Easy Cheesy Fondue

Serves 4

1 cup white wine (Try a sauvignon blanc or a light, dry Riesling, stored in a UV-protected platypreserve wine preservation bag; or buy boxed wines) 

1 clove garlic 

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

7 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded

7 ounces Emmental or Swiss cheese, shredded

7 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Pepper and nutmeg to taste (optional)

1. Halve the garlic clove and rub it along the bottom and sides of a medium pot. For extra flavor, mince and leave clove in the pot.

2. Pour wine into pot, and bring to a boil. 

3. Meanwhile, mix your cheeses and flour together by shaking them up in plastic bag.

4. When wine is boiling, slowly add cheese mixture in handfuls, stirring constantly in zigzags or figure-eights to avoid sticking and burning. 

5. Sprinkle in pepper and nutmeg.

6. Stir until cheese is melted, and enjoy! I like to keep my pot warm over low heat, stirring occasionally (with my bread), to keep the cheese from sticking to the side of the pot. 

To Dip:

* Pita bread or tortillas

* Loaf of French, multigrain, or sourdough bread

* Apple or pear slices

* Bell pepper slices

* Steamed broccoli, mushrooms, or carrots (you can steam these in another pot of boiling water, adding garlic, salt, and pepper to taste)

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