BY PAUL SCHRODT
Photograph by Angela Pham/Unsplash
Melted cheese is a timeless concoction that happens to be the kind of tongue- and gut-pleasing food people tend to crave, especially this time of the year. Add to that the senses-heightening effects of cannabis and you have a perfect combination. The herbaceous qualities of the plant lends itself to a fondue infusion, with the respective flavors and textures mingling happily. And while it might seem like an elaborate dish to construct at home, it’s really simple, and completely worth the effort. Guests will feel wowed and satiated with minimum fuss.
Personally, I like a little funk in both my fondue and my cannabis. A bit of earthiness complements the luscious creaminess of the cheese so add in mushrooms for that umami touch. Finish the mix off with beer -- it'll mellow and marry all the flavors.
At this point, you’re probably wondering about the cheese, the most critical component: Don’t overthink it, but also don’t skimp on generic, flavor-deprived hunks. You need something that melts well, which only certain kinds of do. Swiss is classic. Look for ones not just labeled as “Swiss,” but also subtypes, especially Gruyère and Emmentaler (both used in this recipe). For a more American sensibility, both yellow and white cheddar, along with Monterey Jack and its varieties, will work nicely. Italian Fontina and younger Goudas also melt well. Whatever cheese you’re using, grate it all before dropping it into your fondue (or, really any) pot. And never stop stirring the cheese or let the heat go above low, or the cheese can get stringy.
There are really very few ways to do fondue wrong, so have fun with it. The recipe below is just a loose guide from which you can depart based on your own tastes and whims. A mix of jack cheese and jalapeño takes you straight to the Southwest. Feel free to swap hen-of-the-woods mushrooms for shiitake or portobello. A smattering of parmesan cheese on top of whatever other cheeses you use will add a salty bite. If you’re not a beer fan, trade for wine. Baguette or any other bread, potato, grape tomatoes, and sweeter fruit (strawberries, pineapple, apple, seedless grapes) are all great for dipping into the fondue, and fondue forks make things easier for guests.
Finally, as for the cannabis to infuse: Tinctures simplify the infusion process. Papa & Barkley’s Releaf 3:1 THC-to-CBD oil and CBD-heavier Humboldt Apothecary Calm CBD tincture provide a whole-body rush.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup beer of choice (such as American IPA or brown ale)
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup hen-of-the-woods or other mushrooms, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 pound Gruyère cheese, grated
1/2 pound Emmentaler cheese, grated
20 mg cannabis tincture
Heat olive oil and garlic in enameled cast-iron pot or Dutch oven such as a Le Creuset over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, or until sizzling.
Meanwhile, mix beer and mustard in a bowl and set aside. Add chopped onion, mushrooms, and salt and pepper to pot and heat until they soften (about 7 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Stir in the flour and beer-mustard mixture and increase heat to high until boiling.
Reduce heat to low and add both cheeses plus the tincture.
Stir constantly until the fondue is melted and smooth.
Serve with grilled or toasted slices of baguette, slices of tart green apple, or steamed chunks of red potatoes with the skin on. Be sure to stir the fondue as you serve.