Dating back to the 1800s this cheesy treat, stewed cheese, is a very British alternative to Swiss fondue.
While this recipe might not be great for those watching their cholesterol it most certainly sounds delicious. It's also fun to think of folks in old taverns sitting around a put of steaming stewed cheese dipping their bread into their shared pot.
This old British recipe dates back to the 1800s as listed in Richard Dolby's The Cook's Dictionary and the Thatched House Tavern from 1830. It was a popular repast at Ye Cheshire Cheese public house, in London, where Oliver Goldsmith, Samuel Johnson, and Charles Dickens were regular patrons.
The old recipe for stewed cheese listed in the handwritten Cookbook of Unknown Ladies reads: "Put 3 spoonfulls of water, & ye yolk of an egg, & a lump of butter, beat up, at ye bottom of a pewter plate. Slice yr cheese in thin small bits upon it, yn stew it on a chafing dish of coals wth an other plate over it. [sic]"
Traditional the cheese, egg, and butter mixture is cooked gently on a chafing dish – a raised grate with allowed the food to be heated over a brazier without the fierce heat of the flames. When the stewed cheese was ready it would be served in a small pot that could either be served in a dipping pot for sliced toast or be used to pour the cheese over toasted bread.
Stewed cheese was frequently eaten as a ‘chaser’ after a serving or two of Ye Cheshire Cheese’s famous meaty puddings of lark, kidney, steak, and oysters. Talk about a heavy meal.
Stewed cheese recipe
Prep time: 45 mins
Serves: 2 - 10
- 2 quarts water
- 2 large onions
- 2 lbs cheese
- 2 loaves bread
Cut onions to your preference.
Boil water and onions until soft and clear.
Add cheese a little at a time until melted.
Make plenty of toast!
Scoop stewed cheese over toast and eat while hot!
Tip: You can add as little or as much cheese/onion/water as you like. If you like it thicker you can add cornstarch. You can also add ham if you like.
Leftovers can be frozen for up to six months.