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Mont d'Or Vacherin Fondue with Black Truffles

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How can you get wrong with such good ingredients? Such a simple recipe? Well, I still don't understand, but wrong it went.

'You can't make a bad soup with good ingredients', I used to say. Not anymore. FXcuisine makes it a rule not to report on the many failed culinary experiments and disastrous recipes we try, but here I owe it to the readers to tell it straight. Not only did I ruin half a good truffle and a great cheese, I still don't understand what happened. But if you've never tried Vacherin Mont d'Or 'fondue' and you read what's below, you will still learn how to make one of the easiest dishes in Swiss cuisine. One that works.

Vacherin Mont d'Or fondue
1 400gr unpasteurized Mont d'Or Vacherin
1 dl dry white wine
Crusty bread
25 gr black truffle (not recommended) or
1 garlic clove

The Hélène Darroze recipe I tried this time used black truffle, but it doesn't work, so I recommend you make it with a plain garlic clove instead. This is the traditional recipe.

Vacherin Mont d'Or is a seasonal cheese made in small fromageries across the Swiss-French border in the Jura. Its sides and bottom are wrapped in wet pine shavings. The bacterias in the cheese transform it in a smooth, almost liquid, sweet paste. It can't be pasteurized and regularly some old folks die after eating it because of an especially unfriendly bacteria, the listeria. I believe most are now thermisé, a compromise that rids the cheese of some harmful bacterias while keeping other that contribute to its extraordinary taste.

If you are in Switzerland on holiday, that's a great cheese to bring home and turn into an easy gourmet fondue. Just don't use the truffles.

Carefully cut the cheese crust with a knife, like you would open a tin can.

Slide the knife below the crust and open carefully.

Here I diced about 30 gr of the finest black truffle inside and poured a glass of white wine. You don't want a black truffle to go that way. Just put a thinly sliced garlic clove instead.

Put the cheese crust back on top, place the cheese still in its wooden box on a dish and bake for about 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 180°C.

Remove the crust and serve as a fondue with little cubes of crusty bread, if possible from the day before for more increased crispiness. This is a great almost fail proof fondue that doesn't require any special pot or elongated forks.

I reckon it was not so bad with the truffle after all, but I still feel I ruined a good truffle. When you cook for people who won't be able to taste the food, it's pretty tempting to call a bad dish a success. Who will know the difference? I'm convinced this must happen a lot with TV chefs. But not me. I have loads of pictures of failed recipes which you'll never hear about, because I try to present on FXcuisine.com only things that work. So you'll excuse me for this exception, but without the truffle, the dish is bound to work fine.

Published 20/02/2007
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14 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by karen
  • on: 01/03/2007
Hello FX!Greetings from the San Francisco Bay Area. I came across
your blog by accident and I love it. Admittedly, I am a "foodie" as
well...your description on your home page is an accurate description of
myself! Keep up the great work, the great recipes. I love your photos
and the details of your food adventures.-Karen
  • #2
  • Comment by Farmer de Ville
  • on: 07/01/2008
Ack!  That looks unbelievably delicious.  And it has inspired me to try a similar thing with local goat cheese and hand foraged Oregon white truffles.  Nicely done...Farmerwww.farmerdeville.com
  • #3
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 17/01/2008
Amazing idea! If your goat cheese melts easily and has a relatively discreet flavor I think it should work! I told a 3-Michelin-stars chef about this recipe as I saw him eating one of these Vacherin cheeses, and he told me in his book this would be wasting the truffle. Maybe he's right!
  • #4
  • Comment by Jee Young
  • on: 21/02/2008
Just curious - why was the recipe a "failure"?  Did the flavors just not work well together?  It doesn't look like the fondue was a technical failure (fat did not separate).  
  • #5
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 23/02/2008
Jee, it is impossible to fail a Mont d'Or Vacherin Fondue, all you do is melt the cheese in the oven. But it was a culinary failure because I took a very expensive and rare ingredients and used it in a dish that did not use its extraordinary flavor to the full.

The other day I caught Philippe Rochat during his dinner, Switzerland most acclaimed restaurateur and holder of 3 Michelin stars for a decade now. He was sampling a number of Vacherin Mont d'Or as his dinner, with the cheese makers waiting at the table. I was buying a truffle from one of his chefs and he greeted me when he saw me. I told him about this truffle-fondue recipe by Mrs Darroze and said that it was wasting the truffle. 'And the Vacherin' answered Mr Rochat.
Thanks for the tips on this recipe.  I happen to live in Frankfurt and my Sister in-law lives in Biel/Bienne at the foot of the Jura.  She told me about a great way to eat Vacherin, baked exactly like you said (but not did ;-)) with garlic and white wine.

Unfortunately I'm a bit of a red wine snob so I only have Viognier on hand.....I hope it works as well as a "Schwitzer Wein"....we'll see.

John

  • FX's answer→ John, neither do I drink any white wine, I think you can use a relatively cheap wine for this as most of what is left after cooking is sugar and glycerin.

  • #8
  • Comment by Siimon
  • on: 27/11/2008
As wonderful as the Mont d'Or is, I hesitate to serve it to my family as I've heard some horror stories about deaths in the 80's in Switzerland form eating it and contracting Listeriosis. Can you confirm that measures have since been taken to eliminate Listeriosis from this cheese. I'd love to share it and a Beaujolais Nouveau with my family without fear or guilt.
Thanks,
Simon
Toronto
  • FX's answer→ Simon, there is so much crap with Listeriosis. I mean if you are 90 year old with a weak health and live in a cold house, then yeah, it might be dangerous. But to answer you, in Switzerland unfortunately the hypochondria brigade had the upper hand and all Vacherin Mont d'Or is thermized to kill off any excess listeriosis. So you can buy ours and be safe while I'll get French Vacherin that is still unpasteurized.

  • #10
  • Comment by Tom
  • on: 23/02/2009
Re. the above: Here in the Aravis, just over the other side of the Franco-Swiss border, the Mont d'Or available is defiantly unpasteurised and wrapped in a whole strip of spruce bark before being set in its container. The flavour is so intense and beautiful, it's normally prepared by baking with no garlic or additions other than a couple of tablespoons of white wine (local Apremont is often used) poured under the crust halfway through the cooking time.

This is truly one of the most divine cheeses in the world when prepared this way. I've served it to visiting foodies, fussys, health freaks and gluttons alike and every single one has been in raptures . . . if you can ever get hold of a Mont d'Or, seize the oppurtunity and you'll be in utter cheese heaven . . .

Tom, La Clusaz, France
  • FX's answer→ Indeed Tom, in fact we get plenty of the French unpasteurised Mont d'Or cheese in our Swiss shops, the border does not really make for any sensible change in culture or cuisine in the Jura. Despite our laws that prohibit, unfortunately, unpasteurized Mont d'Or, people still very much enjoy it!

  • #12
  • Comment by Kahing
  • on: 05/12/2009
Well FX,

I think you ALMOST got it right: too much truffle and added to soon to the Vacherin. I personally think the truffle ought to have been added/grated just before you take a bite.

Slow cooking might also be the answer:

Open the Vacherin, FINELY grate a little bit of truffle over the opened Vacherin and let it sit at room temp for an afternoon so the Vacherin can slowly acquire the flavours of the truffle. Then when ready to prepare the fondue, warm up the Vacherin in the oven and only add/grate the remaining truffle when at the table.

Be sure to have left over truffle as you would only need a little bit!!!

Kahing

  • FX's answer→ This sounds like a good idea, however I always go for really seriously strong Vacherins and they just don't mix well with the truffles. I tastes some under-the-counter Vacherin today, made from raw milk, with the sweet taste of transgression but a bit too much salt. The guy makes a few on the side and leaves them too long on the salt bath.

  • #14
  • Comment by Gino Giori
  • on: 30/12/2010
First of all, it's already quite hard to find a perfect vacherin (Mont d'or) in Switzerland, let alone find one in the USA. It is hard to feel through the thick skin to see if the chesse is well ripened.
A good mature vacherin should be liquid inside.
I can't imagine wasting all those truffles, which must have overpowered the vacherin. A sickening mixture no doubt. I can understand a few pieces of finely shredded truffle but not all that.
If you guys want an alternative to Vacherin it's a cheese called Taleggio. I have found the Taleggio in the USA, but never a good vacherin. Taleggio is the closest "taste wise" to vacherin...although less tasty.

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