The Slice: Edgy Fondue for Blue Cheese Lovers

St. Patrick's Day may be over, but be sure to hang on to a hot tip we picked up this year. No, no methods for keeping up with those binge drinking college coeds who mistake St. Patty's Day for St. Party's Day, and not to worry, nary a recipe for corned beef and cabbage (which isn’t actually an Irish tradition anyway).

Instead, we offer this inspired recipe from The Martha Stewart Show's St. Patrick's Day installment.

There's an unusual mix of elements here - blue cheese, Irish fondue, and a cheese that is one-of-a-kind yet widely available. Read on for Cashel Blue and a St. Patrick's recipe you can eat all year.

There are many new riffs on fondues these days, but rarely ones that use a blue cheese as its main ingredient. I loved the recipe's hit of dry mustard and cayenne to play up the punchiness of the blue, and tried it as the recipe suggested with blanched broccoli in addition to a loaf of crusty bread.

The Irish elements are key here. Cashel Blue is Ireland's very first farmhouse blue cheese, and lucky for you, is widely available. Cheesemakers Jane and Louis Grubb saw a void in the world of Irish cheeses and filled it with their original recipe in 1984. They’ve been making Cashel ever since, with few variations to the original recipe of pasteurized milk gathered primarily from their herd of Friesian cows. Its strength varies with age; when young, a mild, buttery richness dominates, with a sharp bluey bite that lingers exponentially with age.

Historically, fondues were made in parts of France and Switzerland bordering the Jura mountains from the region’s hefty alpine cheeses. Think Gruyere, Emmental, Beaufort, and Comte. These are the great melters (go figure) of the cheese world, and the largest wheels generally speaking.

For the same reason that these cheeses were made in large formats-- to sustain isolated mountainous communities through cold winter months when food was scarce-- they were turned into fondues. Taken from the French word fondre, meaning to melt, fondues were made with old dry cheese, often from a summer stash, melted down with some wine, and eaten with stale bread. Take that, Hale and Hearty.

I like fondues better when made with beer, and here we see an instance of the old adage, “what grows together, goes together,” so be sure to use an Irish beer for good measure.

Try it this week while the spirit of the Irish is still in the air, perhaps followed by-- ever- appropriately-- a Guinness milkshake?

&bull Click herefor the recipe.

(Photo credit: marthastewart.com)

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Shopping, Cheese, The Cheesemonger

Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop. Until recently she was a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. She is currently a freelance food stylist and recipe developer in New York.