When cooler weather drifts in, many turn to comfort food as a way to keep warm and draw everyone indoors. One of the most fun and interactive ways to accomplish this is to host a fondue party.
The word fondue is derived from the French word fondre, which means ‘to melt.’ Fondue was born out of necessity in the 18th century when Swiss villagers found themselves with nothing to eat but stale bread and cheese during long winter months. They discovered that melting the cheese then dipping the bread made both much more palatable. Later with the addition of wine and spices, it became a very enjoyable and popular meal. From cheese to chocolate, and hot pot style oil and broth fondues, this is a tasty way to gather family and friends for an entertaining culinary experience
A Dipping Delight
Your fondue will only be as good as the ingredients you use, so don’t skimp. A few extra dollars goes a long way in producing the best fondue possible. Provide each guest to the table with their own fondue fork and raclette plate. Skewering some ingredients beforehand with bamboo picks and skewers allows people to dip as soon as they sit down.
Ooey, gooey and oh-so good, everyone loves a cheese fondue. Cheese should be cubed or shredded to ensure even melting. Choose firm cheese with a fat content of 45% or more and don’t be afraid to experiment. Use a cheese you’ve never tried, or mix two or three together remembering that older cheeses produce a richer flavor and creamier texture. For a beverage, good quality wine is a perfect accompaniment.
The most popular cheeses to use are:
The best dippers
Bread – a hearty French loaf cut into cubes
Vegetables – lightly steam your favourites to soften and bring out their vibrant color
Hot Pot Style
Using a specialized fondue pot, oils and butter or savory broths are heated and used as a cooking base for thinly sliced meats, seafood, and a wide variety of vegetables and tofu. Use good quality cuts of meat such as tenderloin or prime rib and free range chicken. Hot pepper sauce, teriyaki, and herb butter sauce all make great dips to serve as accompaniments. Tea, beer and sake go well with this type of fondue.
For Your Sweet Tooth
Sweet fondues are a perfect way to end a meal, or serve alone for an evening with friends. Enjoy one with your favorite fruits and sweet breads like pound cake and banana bread. Sweet fondues call for sweeter beverages. Indulge in chocolate martinis, vintage port and ice wine. And always have plenty of water.
Bitter or semi sweet fair trade, gourmet chocolate is your best choice for a rich fondue. Flavor extracts or liqueurs can be added for that special touch.
A twist on the traditional chocolate fondue, butterscotch provides another sweet fondue option.
For very special occasions why not combine fondues and amp up the luxuriousness, but please, no double dipping!
By Lee Anne Michayluk