VERMONT SKIING FONDUE

My youth was spent skiing the powder snow covered Rocky Mountains in blue jeans with my skis tethered to my boots. What a surprise when returning to skiing after my first son was born to discover a helmet, bindings and lots of New England ice on the slopes. I leave the skiing to my kids these days and enjoy very much a good book in front of the fire in the lodge and an afternoon of cooking when everyone returns to warm up aprés ski. Hands down, fondue remains our Sugarbush meal of choice. While the cheese is rich and creamy, the green apples and juicy pears help round out the richness of the dish and no one turns down filet at our house. While the vegetables are not the first on the plate to disappear, without prompting, skewers dive into the plump tiny tomatoes, blanched broccoli and cauliflower florets, and  on the plate. The 18th century Swiss fondue using aged cheese and wine to make stale bread palatable, is as much a social eating tradition as it is a culinary one. Remind your family and friends that they must not drop meat, bread, fruit or veggies into the pot. Folklore suggests that anyone who loses their food in the cheese must kiss the person sitting next to them--a peck on the cheek is all that is required. For larger groups and longer tables, STAUB CAST IRON MINI FONDUE POTS are perfect for two-at-a- time dipping when set between guests. 

Nota bene: Double the cheese recipe--skiers are hungry people and there is never a bit left. Blanched broccoli, tiny steamed potatoes, and roasted asparagus all make for great cheese dipping additions. The filet may be made two hours in advance and served at room temperature. The pears and apples may be slice 2 to 3 hours in advance and kept in cold, acidulated water--dry gently with a paper towel before plating. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 2 cups dry white wine

  • 8 ounces Emmentaler cheese, shredded

  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1 tablespoon Kirsch (a clear brandy distilled from black cherries)

  • 1 Fuji apple, cored and sliced, leave skin

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced, leave skin

  • 2 Bartlett pears, cored and sliced, leave skin

  • 1 large sourdough boule, cut into 1 inch blocks

  • 2 pounds of whole filet, trimmed & tied

  • Broccoli and caulliflower florets, blanched

  • 12 tiny tomatoes

Directions

1. Rub the inside of a heavy saucepan with the garlic. Discard the garlic.

2. Add the wine and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. 

3. Gradually add the cheese to the simmering wine, stirring constantly in a zigzag pattern with a wooden spoon to prevent the cheese from forming a ball. Cook until the cheese is melted and the mixture is creamy, stirring constantly.

4. Combine the cornstarch and water in a cup and mix well. Slowly stir into the fondue. Cook for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in the Kirsch. Pour the cheese into a fondue pot and set over a flame to keep it warm.

TO COOK THE BEEF FILET

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

2. Spread 3 tablespoons of butter over the outside of the meat and season liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper. 

3. Let the beef sit at room temperature for 1 hour. 

4. Cook the beef for exactly 22 minutes for medium rare and 24 minutes for medium.

5. Tent the beef with aluminum foil and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes, Cut the meat into one inch slices and then cut those slices into 1 inch cubes. 

Serves 4 to 6