First… for the “newcomers”… what is fondue? Traditional fondue is a sauce, either chocolate or cheese melted in the pot. For either one, you put all the ingredients in the pot and heat until melted. Once it is completed melted and creamy, you use the long narrow forks that come with the pot to dip your favorite “dipper”. For a chocolate fondue, which is often used as a dessert, typical “dippers” are fruit… strawberries, apples, ripe peaches… basically any fruit that would be delicious covered in chocolate. You can also use chucks of pound cake. For cheese fondue, the typical “dippers” are chucks of crusty bread (I cut up chunks of large soft pretzels), sausages and vegetables… broccoli, cauliflower, etc. You can get as creative as your imagination and taste buds allow.
The fondue pot is placed in the center of the table and everyone picks from the plates of dippers. It’s a perfect treat for a small group of friends or a very enjoyable family meal. We tend to enjoy fondue in the cold weather months in front of our warm fireplace, but fondue really knows no seasons.
I described the basics above. You can get creative and create a variety of sauces. The internet is loaded with ideas and recipes and all are simple and delicious! Remember to keep the recipe simple… no need to get complicated or your pot will sit in the pantry and collect dust.
Don’t forget a nice chilled bottle of wine!
Now for the fondue pot…
Fondue pots come in many different styles and materials. Many are quite attractive and can look like “a work of art”. They can be ceramic, stainless, “heavy metal” and a variety of shapes and colors. As with all cookware, your personal budget and desire to use the pot will determine your investment. You might consider two… one for the cheese and one to go right away to the chocolate dessert!
The pots come in two different cooking types..”fuel” burning… candles or the traditional “flame can’ that you see keeping buffet trays warm and electric. My preference is the electric model… more even and easier to regulate heat. The fuel burning is more “mood setting” while the electric is more functional. Again, personal preference.
You’ve got your pot… now some incentive to get started. Here’s your first recipe for a slight variation on a classic Swiss cheese fondue:
6 tbsp. butter
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups light cream can substitute ½ & ½… just as good)
5 tbsp. flour
1 ½ cups grated Gruyere cheese (can substitute “regular” Swiss cheese… cheaper version)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup white wine (sweet or dry)
¼ tsp (heaping) cayenne pepper (don’t worry… just adds a little zing)
Mix cream (or 1/2 &1/2) and flour and set aside. Melt butter and bouillon cubes in pot on high (that’s why electric pot better… more control) stirring to dissolve cubes.Reduce heat to medium then add cream mixture stirring constantly until thickened. Add cheese gradually blending until smooth.
Start dipping when melted and creamy.