Smoky Creole fondue with Tasso ham
This dish comes courtesy of cheesemonger Ray Bair of Cheese Plus, San Francisco, who prepared it for a VIP crowd of pork aficionados at Cochon 555, an event celebrating local butchery and heirloom pig varieties. His version is essentially a classic Alpine style with two extremely flavorful additions—spicy smoky Tasso ham and Creole mustard.
Rub fondue pot with the garlic glove to release oils and aroma (it's OK to smash it a little to release the juice and bits of crushed garlic). Add 1 cup wine, ham and mustard, and heat to a gentle boil on a kitchen flame.
Shred the cheese and toss with cornstarch when the wine is at a gentle boil. Add the cheese by handfuls and stir vigorously to melt and incorporate (this will take a few minutes, so be patient). Season with black pepper. Add a little more wine if the fondue is too thick, or more cheese if too thin.
Remove from the heat and keep warm on fondue pot tableside. Serve with cubed bread, cornichon pickles, blanched vegetables, or gild the lily by serving with crisp bacon slices. Stir regularly to keep the ham from settling at the bottom of the fondue pot—you can substitute regular smoked bacon or sausage for tasso ham but the fattier options will need to be cooked separately and excess fat drained before adding to the wine.Photos by Hazel Lee