Not long ago I went on one of the more stellar culinary journeys of my life. Mortadella and bowls of tagliatelle di ragù in Bologna. Mounds of culatello and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma. Vitello tonnato and carne cruda all’Albese in Alba. Every kind of snail dish imaginable in Cherasco, home of the Cherasco Worldwide Institute of Snail Breeding. (Bet you didn’t know there was one).
And, of course, several liters’ worth of wine from Barbaresco and Barolo to round out all the wine we had drunk in the Emilia Romagna region. We did have a few bottles of beer as well, including some prima ones from Birra Balladin (Piedmont) and Birrificio del Ducato (Parma) — but those are worth another round of words.
So what does Italia have to do with Doppelbock and aged Gouda? While we were on our adventure in search of the fine cheesemakers at San Pier Damiani in the Parma countryside, I got to thinking about recipes that combine beer and cheese. And what better way than to put the two together than in a fondue? The recipe below doesn’t feature Parmesan cheese for a few reasons. Parmesan doesn’t melt as well as many other cheeses. I also haven’t had a chance yet to experiment with Parmesan to finish fondues. Last but not least, I just so happen to have this old tried-and-true recipe kicking around that’ll help you stave off the evening chill of these autumn evenings.
Brechtian moment: I know it requires a bit of lateral thinking to get from Point A (northern Italian wines and cheeses) to Point B (northern European cheese and Bavarian beer) to Point C (fondue), but I’ve been looking for a way to work my Italy trip into a post for quite some time now. At any rate, it’s probably not the worst writing sin I’ve committed. And what’s not to like about Italian food and wine?
Before we get to the recipe itself, some beer and wine pairings:
- Aged Gouda is a distinctive cheese, and melds seamlessly with both the Doppelbock and nutty sherries like Oloroso or Amontillado.
- Stouts and porters match aged Gouda’s nuttiness and notes of caramel.
- The “cru” Beaujolais wines from communes such as Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Morgon, and Chiroubles balance fruity elegance with enough staying power to counter the cheese.
- If you can find something like Birra Baladin’s Nora or their Elixir, you’ll be in for a treat. Nora is a rich and spicy “Egyptian” ale redolent of dates and candied orange peel, and Elixir is a cornucopia of honeyed figs, rum-soaked cherries, Demarara sugar, and plums accented by Belgian yeast aromatics.
And now for the recipe:
Doppelbock Fondue (Serves 4-6)
- 0.75 lbs. aged Gouda
- 0.3 lbs. Gruyère (the Swiss versions have more character)
- 0.2 lbs. Emmenthal (ditto)
- 1 500 mL bottle of Doppelbock (you’ll only use about 300 mL, but you can drink the rest)
- 2 tbsp dry Amontillado or Oloroso sherry
- 1 tbsp Moutarde de Meaux (or other suitably grainy mustard that isn’t too sharp or hot)
- 1 tbsp shallot, finely chopped (a bit less than half a shallot, depending on its size)
- 2 tbsp flour, divided
- pinch sea salt, pinch cayenne, pinch nutmeg
- 1 loaf sourdough bread or rye bread
Cube the bread and grate the cheese. Mix in about a handful of flour into the grated cheese. Heat the beer till it bubbles, add shallots, then slowly incorporate the cheeses. Add the pinches of nutmeg and cayenne. Meanwhile, mix the mustard with the sherry. (If the fondue doesn’t appear thick enough as the cheese melts, dissolve the remaining flour in the sherry-mustard mix). Once the cheese has melted, finish with the sherry-mustard mix. Test for salt, and add sea salt if needed.
For the beer, I use Weihenstephan’s Korbinian Doppelbock, which is suitably rich and complex. You could also try other malt-forward beers like Scotch ale or British barleywine. Weihenstephan’s Vitus or Schneider Weisse’s Aventinus could also be interesting options.
Sourdough bread goes particularly well with this fondue, as do vegetables such as mushrooms and parboiled cauliflower.
More Tempest posts to help ease you into winter:
Images by F.D. Hofer.
© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.