Episode 15 – “For Whom the Cheese Melts”

Posted: October 3, 2014 in Season 2
Tags: , , , , ,

Fondue Vudu

Now that the fruitcake has officially all been eaten in our house, we’re on to the next logical task:  cheese! Cheese is absolutely one of my favorite things, and I will find any excuse to eat it. I have been known to reason that I need to eat more cheese because “I need more protein,” or because “Calcium is good for my bones.” I can also safely say that I like any and all types of cheeses. Well, except for Gjetost. I just can’t do Gjetost. Thank goodness my HDL is 119.

The first recipe Alton conquers in this episode of Good Eats is for cheese fondue. I will confess that I had made this fondue before, though I had not watched the episode prior to making the recipe. I did watch the episode before making it this time around. My family ate cheese fondue when I was growing up, especially when we went downhill skiing in the winter. I remember that my mom’s recipe always had a touch of Kirsch in it. Alton’s recipe also uses some alcohol, though his is in the form of hard cider and brandy.

To begin Alton’s recipe, you rub your fondue pot with a halved clove of garlic.

Garlic, hard cider, Gruyere, and Smoked Gouda.

Garlic, hard cider, Gruyere, and Smoked Gouda.

Alton recommends using an electric fondue pot, but we do not have one, so I used a standard fondue pot. Once you have thoroughly rubbed your fondue pot with garlic, you add hard cider, Kosher salt, lemon juice (Alton uses 1 T in the episode, while the online recipe calls for 2 T), and brandy. You bring this mixture to a simmer.

Pot rubbed with garlic and filled with hard cider, Kosher salt, lemon juice, and brandy.

Pot rubbed with garlic and filled with hard cider, Kosher salt, lemon juice, and brandy.

Meanwhile, you grate your Gruyere and Smoked Gouda, and toss the cheeses with 2 T of cornstarch (the online recipe calls for less cornstarch).

Grated Gruyere and Smoked Gouda.

Grated Gruyere and Smoked Gouda.

Cheese mixed with cornstarch.

Cheese mixed with cornstarch.

Gradually, handful by handful, you begin adding your grated cheese to the cider mixture.

Adding the first handful of cheese.

Adding the first handful of cheese.

Alton stresses that you take this process slowly, allowing the cheese to melt completely and waiting for bubbles to break the surface before adding the next handful of cheese. I found that I actually needed to increase the heat a bit to get the cheese to completely melt and incorporate. Otherwise, little bits of cheese remained visible.

Adding cheese, handful by handful.

Adding cheese, handful by handful.

All of the cheese incorporated.

All of the cheese incorporated.

Once the cheese is all melted and smooth, you add a pinch of black pepper and 1/2 t (the online recipe calls for 1/4 t) of curry powder. Since we like heat, I chose to use hot curry powder.

Hot curry powder.

Hot curry powder.

Fondue with curry powder.

Fondue with curry powder.

We ate our fondue with cubed bread and a little bit of cubed Summer sausage.

Fondue dinner spread.

Fondue dinner spread.

When we have had fondue in the past, we have also really liked to use apples or pears, though we did not do that this time around. We both really like the flavor of this fondue, which is why we have made it a few times now. My fondue ended up being much smoother this time around, which I assume could be due to the additional cornstarch in the episode recipe vs. the online recipe. The smokiness of the Gouda really comes through in this fondue, though it is not overpowering, and the sweetness of the cider is also evident. I find the flavors to balance well, with the sweetness of the cider, the smokiness of the Gouda, the subtle heat from the curry powder, the tartness of the lemon juice, and the salty/nutty flavor of the Gruyere. This is a super easy, but sinful, dinner to make. We like to have it on a day when we have done a good long run or bike ride! This will remain my go-to cheese fondue recipe, and I’ll be making it as Alton makes it in the episode.

Big Cheese Squeeze

The second recipe in the cheese episode is for a grilled cheese sandwich. Being the cheese lover I am, I’m a pretty happy girl if you put a grilled cheese sandwich in front of me, especially if the bread and cheese do the sandwich justice. For his sandwich, Alton tells you to heat two skillets (preferably iron) over high heat. Ideally, you want one skillet to be able to nest inside the other skillet. We happen to have two iron skillets that fit the bill perfectly.

Heating two cast iron skillets.

Heating two cast iron skillets.

While your skillets heat, you grate a good handful of cheese (Alton uses Cheddar in the episode, so that is what I used) and spread Dijon mustard on one slice of bread. You top this with the cheese, grind some black pepper on top, and put the lid on your sandwich.

Mustard on the bread.

Mustard on the bread.

Extra sharp Cheddar.

Extra sharp Cheddar.

Cheese on the mustard-coated bread.

Cheese on the mustard-coated bread.

And some ground pepper.

And some ground pepper.

You then spritz olive oil onto the outer sides of the sandwich and onto the bottom of the smaller skillet. You remove the pans from the heat, place your sandwich in the larger skillet, and put the smaller skillet on top. In about three minutes, you should have the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

Into the skillet, after being coated with olive oil.

Into the skillet, after being coated with olive oil.

Nesting skillets.

Nesting skillets.

Nesting skillets.

Nesting skillets.

I have liked all of the recipes that I have prepared from Good Eats… until now. This recipe was just a complete flop for me. My skillets ended up being way too hot, and quickly burned the outside of my sandwich, and I did not actually turn the heat on under the skillets until I was completely ready to assemble my sandwich. I ended up throwing my sandwich away. Frustrated, and irritated to waste aged extra sharp Cheddar cheese, I opted to wait to try again another day. I tried this method again a few days later, opting for non-stick skillets this time, and heating them over lower heat for less time.

Bread with mustard.

Bread with mustard.

Bread with mustard and pepper.

Bread with mustard and pepper.

Bread with mustard, pepper, and cheese.

Bread with mustard, pepper, and cheese.

Oiled sandwich.

Oiled sandwich.

Nestled skillets.

Nestled skillets.

Guess what? This time, the skillets were not hot enough, so the outside of the sandwich got slightly browned, but the cheese was not thoroughly melted. Great.

Sandwich from skillets that were not hot enough.

Sandwich from skillets that were not hot enough.

I had to place them back over the heat and do it a second time. And, in that amount of time, I could have already eaten a perfectly good grilled cheese sandwich made the old-fashioned way. I will say that I liked the sandwich made with Dijon mustard and black pepper, though I had discovered that I liked the addition of mustard on my own a while ago. I will not be making a grilled cheese sandwich this way again. There is a reason that people have been making grilled cheese sandwiches the same way for years – because it works.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s