For a fun meal with friends, nothing hits the spot like fondue. It’s communal, laid- back and makes for a totally unique dining experience. First of all, diners get to choose their favorite dippers. Secondly, you, as the host, get to spend more time with your guests rather than toil in the kitchen. Lastly, since everyone will be bent over a pot to make sure their piece of bread gets enough cheese, it guarantees lively conversation. What’s more, with fondue people get to choose their food, to a certain extent. With all dietary programs that exist today, serving fondue just makes it easier to please everyone. It’s literally a melting pot of possible aromas and flavors.
There are many different types of fondue: cheese, oil or broth. Then, of course, there’s dessert fondue: warm, delicious chocolate, for example, where marshmallows and fruit are the quintessential dippers.
The word “fondue” comes from the French word fondre, which means “to melt.” Most people believe Swiss farm families created the dish to make use of their leftover bread and cheese during winter months. Fast forward to 1930, when the Swiss Cheese Union (Yes, there’s an official union for cheese. Where can we sign up?) declared it as the country’s national dish.
MEET THE DIPPERS
Don’t even bother dipping pre-sliced white bread: it will fall apart before it reaches your mouth. What works best is bread that is firm and dry, but not stale. Try a chewy French or Italian loaf that can withstand the heat of the fondue and the thickness of the cheese. Don’t forget to cut it into bitesize cubes!
For more variety, try artisanal dippers like summer sausage, prosciutto & other premium cured meats. You can also dip pickles, salami, vegetables, apples or potatoes.
HOW TO THROW A FABULOUS FONDUE PARTY: Advice From Experts
If you want to go all-out, why not have fondue for the appetizer, the main course and the dessert? You can have the cheese first, followed by an oil or broth and stick the landing with a dessert fondue. Research different recipes per fondue category and choose the one you feel would be the best combination for your three-way fondue experience.
Other elements that might add a little flare to the experience are:
• A decorative platter to display your dippers
• Color-coded fondue forks and individual plates so guests don’t mix theirs up
• Good wine and cocktails to liven up conversation
ETIQUETTE & FUN FACTS
Although it may seem like common sense, it needs to be said: Never eat right off the fondue fork! It’s a cooking tool, not a dining tool. Even though fondue is communal eating, you don’t want to contaminate the mix.
In traditional Swiss culture, losing your bread in the pot is considered bad form.
Another old school fondue tradition is that if a woman’s dipper falls into the pot, she has to kiss the man on her left. If a man drops his dipper, some say he has to buy a round of drinks for the table. Others say he has to chug a full glass of wine or take a shot. So be careful with those dippers unless you want a fondue party full of intoxicated people kissing each other!
SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF CHEESE
In short: A fondue meal is so much more than your average sit-down dinner: It’s more interactive and leisurely, and you should give it a shot at your next gathering. So invite some friends over, bring out that fondue pot and start planning your menu! Turn that melted cheese into happy memories.
Beef Fondue with a Variety of Dipping Sauces
Courtesy of Taste of Home
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 to 3 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 to 3 tablespoons 2% milk
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 2 to 3 teaspoons water
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 pound beef tenderloin, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 3 to 4 cups canola oil
In three separate bowls, combine the curry sauce, mustard sauce and onion-horseradish sauce ingredients. Pat meat dry with paper towels.
Heat oil in a fondue pot to 375°F. Use fondue forks to cook meat in oil until it reaches desired doneness. Serve with sauces.