Big Chill Cheese Fondue

big chill fondue by dinnerinvenice 1

After last week’s snow storm, and Tuesday’s record temperatures (we hit a record low of 4 degrees Farenheit or -15 C here in New York City), several friends emailed us  or called us from Italy expressing concern for our safety and comfort. We loved the attention, but don’t worry…. we are a tough breed! (here is what we have been doing:)

dinnerinvenice snow

Of course, after a couple of hours of frozen fun at the park, we headed home to warm up by the fireplace ! In most families,a nice cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows would be in order. But my 7-year-old is the kind of kid who, asked by a friend’s mom at snack time: “Do you eat parmesan cheese?” replied: “Would you mind cutting it into shavings and add honey and pears on the side?”. So here is what we settled on.

Fondue step 1-2 by

My Italian fondue recipe hails from Valle d’Aosta, the smallest of all Italian regions, but dominated by two of Europe’s top peaks—Monte Bianco (aka Mont Blanc) and Monte Cervino (aka the Matterhorn) on its borders with France and Switzerland. Skiing down such impressive slopes requires serious refueling, or at least I like to think so!  Fonduta Valdostana is even simpler than Swiss Fondue. No wine or kirsch here, just a good pound of fontina (or other good melting cheese), milk and egg yolks. The calequons, those little fondue sets with the tiny forks are really cute, and I couldn’t resist buying one at Zabar’s, but come on – all you really need is a double-boiler made by layering two regular saucepans.

Fondue Step 3-4 by

Even if you are not a health food nut, the combination of lots of butter with cheese and bread cubes might induce some feeling of guilt. That’s where the egg yolks come in handy, because at least you are having some extra protein. Besides the bread cubes, you can dip stuff like steamed baby potatoes, slightly steamed cauliflower florets, red peppers, zucchini and pear slices, steamed broccoli or cauliflower or whatever fruit or vegetable you’re in the mood for. I find that when I add fruit and veggies to the standard Italian or French bread cubes, I can tell myself that I’m having a perfectly balanced meal. Of course, don’t forget a steaming cup of mulled wine!


Big Chill Cheese Fondue


  • 1 lb fontina or other good melting cheese, cubed or thinly sliced
  • scant cup whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg if liked


Place the cheese in a bowl, cover with the milk, cover the bowl with wrap and allow to rest for at least 2 hours at room temperature or in the least cold part of your refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

Make a double boiler by pouring some water into a saucepan, and placing a second smaller saucepan inside the first one. Alternatively, you can use a very heavy enameled cast iron sauce pan on very low heat.

Melt the butter in the saucepan on low heat, stirring. Drain the cheese from the milk and add the cheese to the butter, with only 3 tbsp of the milk. keep stirring with a wooden spoon or with a whisk, until the cheese is all melted, making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom or sides.

Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and remove from the stove top. Adjust the salt and sprinkle with white pepper (and nutmeg, if liked. Or even white truffle shavings, if you want to splurge!)

Serve in warm bowls (or in a shared fondue set) accompanied by bread cubes for dipping. You can also offer polenta cubes, cauliflower florets, pear slices, etc.

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  1. Gosh the kids look like they’re having a blast! How cute are they with their NYC snowman?! And there’s no such thing as too much cheese…especially melted…with bread…and wine.

  2. brrr, it sure was cold here!
    i used to have a fondue pot, but i think my mom threw it away (she denies it)! i guess the double boiler will have to do.

  3. Oh, do I ever remember the fondue pot craze! They do seem to have come back, and recipes like this remind me why! I simply adore the way that a fine Italian Fontina melts. In fact, it has taken the place of mozzarella on pizza now in our house for years. Happy New Year to you and yours – stay warm!

  4. Jamie Geller says:

    crazy decadent!

  5. This looks so so good! What a perfect change from soup and stews.

  6. Your 7 year old is the cutest thing ever- his comment was too funny!! It reminded me of my little guy when he requested a chicken cutlet sandwich, with a half a lemon, to bring to preschool… kids! This recipe is perfect for this crazy weather we’ve been having. I mean really, you can go wrong with bread & cheese!
    PS- have you been to Sfoglia? (92nd & lex) Best bread ever.
    PPS- my mother’s family was from Valle d’Aosta 🙂

  7. I love your way of balancing a meal, lol, mine is to get my kids to dunk broccoli into the cheese, at least they are getting their veggies.

  8. Fondu is one of my all time favorites! I have to say, I make chocolate more than cheese, but it’s such a treat and so much fun to eat with a group! I’ll have to try it with the mulled wine next time 🙂

  9. Cheese Fondue, great idea for this Polar Vortex!

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