Brace yourselves for possibly the easiest appetizer you’ll ever come across. I’d say this recipe is even easier than putting together a cheese platter because there is no agonizing over what cheeses to buy – wait…am I the only on who agonizes over things like this? Anyway, for this baked fontina, you’ll cube some Italian fontina, chop some garlic and herbs, put everything in a cast iron pan, and pop it under the broiler for 6 minutes. That’s it! The result is a baked fondue of cheesy goodness that you can scoop up with hunks of bread, toasted sliced bread, or even crackers or Wheat Thins. The garlic and herbs permeate throughout the cheese when it bakes and every bite has a blast of herby flavor. It’s heaven…melted cheese heaven.
I made this for a Christmas Day appetizer last year, have made it a couple times since (a halved recipe in an 8″ cast iron pan), and I’ll be making it again for a Thanksgiving appetizer this year; it’s always a huge hit wherever I bring it. Whether you’re hosting turkey day and want to work this into your menu or you plan to bring this to someone’s house, cube the cheese and chop the garlic and herbs in advance and keep them in airtight containers until you’re ready to bake. Bring your cast iron pan with you (doesn’t everyone travel with kitchen equipment?) just in case your host doesn’t have one for you to use. Since the recipe only needs 6 minutes under the broiler, you can even take the turkey out of the oven for a few minutes (cover it tightly with foil) and slip the pan in to bake. Hot appetizers really don’t get any easier than this one and I can already anticipate how quickly this baked fontina will go on the appetizer table this year.
Be sure you use Italian fontina in this recipe. Danish fontina will not melt properly. If you absolutely can't find Italian fontina, brie (with the rind removed) will also work great here.
- 1 1/2 lbs Italian fontina, rind removed and cubed into 1-inch pieces
- 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Adjust top rack of the oven so that it sits about 5 inches under the broiler unit. Preheat broiler.
- Spread cheese out in the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron pan. Drizzle olive oil over the cheese. Mix together the garlic and herbs in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top of the cheese.
- Bake for 6 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and melted through. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and set it on a heatproof surface - the pan will be hot! Serve immediately.
source: adapted from How Easy is That? by Ina Garten