Like bellbottoms and miniskirts, whatever’s in vogue seems to come back around. Fashion is cyclical, and so is food! For example, fondue is the ultimate throwback food. Popular in the 1960s, this, too, has come back in style, even inspiring chain restaurants like The Melting Pot. After all, what’s not to love about dipping fresh bread into cheese or pound cake into thick, creamy hot chocolate? As a bonus, it brings people together like no other dish could.
Originating from Switzerland, Fondue gets its name from the French word “fonder,” which means “to melt.” Although the original fondue was made from cheese, many related dishes now share the name.
Fondue was once considered peasant fare. It was a practical way to repurpose leftover dried cheese and opened wine. Day-old cubed bread for dipping completed this great culinary concoction.
Fondue refers to a dish made by warming cheese, oil, or chocolate in a specially designed pot over a small flame. Various foods are then dipped into the melted contents of the pot. Fondue can be savory or sweet, eaten as a starter, a main, or a dessert.
At fondue restaurants, you will find many types of fondue beyond simple cheese. Fondue restaurants may feature various meats that can be cooked in heated broth or oil. The cooked meats are then often dipped in a variety of sauces.
A quick internet search will find tons of delicious fondue recipes, with spices and herbs added to enhance the flavor of the cheese, chocolate, or oil. Some of the most common foods eaten with cheese fondue include bread, pretzels, cooked or raw vegetables, and various meats like chicken or beef. Dried or fresh fruit is a very popular companion to chocolate fondue, as are small cakes, cookies, and marshmallows.
Shrimp, chicken, asparagus, and broccoli dipped in hot broths are replacing the high-calorie cheese, bread, and meat dishes that once characterized fondue cooking. The pots offer a host or hostess a seemingly ideal meal for impromptu entertaining that is not only easy to prepare with relatively inexpensive ingredients, but also provides an instant centerpiece conducive to fun interaction.
Fondue pots create heat in one of two ways. Either they produce it from an internal coil that heats by electricity, as with your plug-in fondue pots, or they sit above a small flame. Both methods heat pretty slowly (though electric is faster), so most fondue is made on the stove top and transferred to the fondue pot where it's kept at just the right temperature for serving.
A high-quality fondue set can make some of the most comforting foods imaginable, from delicious broths for cooking meats and veggies to thick, oozy cheeses, and, of course, delectable melted chocolates. Owning your own pot will give you an easy-to-use centerpiece for any dinner party or casual get-together. A set generally comes with the pot and several fondue forks, which are long and made especially for dipping at a safe distance from the hot pot.
Although it’s tempting, one should never eat off the fondue fork. It can get way too hot being submerged in hot liquid, and guests can burn themselves. Instead, make sure you give everyone a dining fork to move the food from the fondue fork to guests’ plates (this method is also more sanitary).
With cheese fondue, swirl your dipper in a figure eight motion to stir the dip simultaneously. With any type of fondue, you want to end the process with a short, slow twirl so the excess goes back into the pot and not on your tablecloth.
Don’t monopolize the fondue pot — let everyone take a turn.
Add serving spoons to each pot so guests who don’t want to dip each individual bite can get some sauce on their plates.
Fondues require almost no cooking skill. For the diet-conscious they offer automatic portion control since the individual diner gets to select just as much food as he or she wishes to eat. For those who never like to leave their living room couch, the fondue pot can find a perfect perch on a coffee table. For city dwellers it is the kind of meal that requires no dining room table and can even be comfortably eaten by diners sitting on a circle of cushions on the floor.
Fondue is a great way to share a casual meal with friends or family, as there is very little formal serving required. The fondue pot is usually placed in the center of the table, with smaller plates set around to hold the foods for dipping. Guests simply choose what they like and dip into the fondue pot. Dining on fondue is a communal experience to share with friends, and the dish is simple enough to make on your own.
Maybe this recipe will inspire you to pull out your fondue set. You know you got one as a wedding gift!! 😉