I told a friend the other day that I made a wonderful Irish Fondue for St. Patrick’s Day. He came back with, “Irish Fondue? The Irish don’t have fondue.”
“Any culture that has wonderful cheeses, including the Irish, have a fondue of sorts,” I replied. “It doesn’t need to be Swiss. In fact, a good fondue doesn’t need Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese. It doesn’t need kirsch. You just need a proper recipe.”
“Prove it,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
That’s when I knew he had maneuvered me into making my much appreciated Irish version of Swiss Fondue. Here’s what I made:
1 stick unsalted Irish butter (room temperature)
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon garlic (minced)
12 slices firm-textured bread (crusts removed)
8 ounces Kerrygold Blarney Castle cheese (grated)
¾ teaspoon fresh chives (chopped)
½ teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1½ cups, milk
2/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
In a small bowl, blend together the butter, mustard, and garlic. Spread an equal portion of the butter mixture on each slice of bread. Fit 6 slices of the bread, buttered-side down, into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or glass dish (reserving the remaining buttered bread for the top of the casserole).
In a small bowl, stir together the cheese, chives, Worcestershire sauce, and the salt and pepper. Sprinkle this cheese mixture over the bread in the baking dish. Place the remaining bread, buttered-side up, on top of the cheese.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and wine until well blended. Pour the mixture over the bread and cheese composition in the baking dish. Allow the casserole to stand for 30 minutes. Pour the cream over the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. You might be tempted to put this in the oven right away but please don’t. Letting it refrigerate is important to get the flavor and texture just right.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the casserole, uncovered, until lightly browned and set – 60 to 70 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the casserole to rest for 15 minutes. Cut into finger-sized strips (or as desired) and serve hot.
Tip: Make a day ahead and keep refrigerated until ready to bake.