Recipes: Have fun with fondue this winter

Winter is the perfect time for fondue. In the pot is Chocolate Fondue; the tray below it has accompanying items, such as strawberries, pineapple, pound cake, marshmallows and cherries. The upper tray (left) has items for Cheese Fondue, including sliced apples, crusty bread, gherkins and pickled onions. On the left are sauces for Beef Fondue; the lower tray (left) has items for that fondue, including mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini and roasted potatoes. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

caption arrowCaption
Winter is the perfect time for fondue. In the pot is Chocolate Fondue; the tray below it has accompanying items, such as strawberries, pineapple, pound cake, marshmallows and cherries. The upper tray (left) has items for Cheese Fondue, including sliced apples, crusty bread, gherkins and pickled onions. On the left are sauces for Beef Fondue; the lower tray (left) has items for that fondue, including mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini and roasted potatoes. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Enjoy a restaurant-style feast with cheese, beef, chocolate at home

Tracing the history of fondue, most accounts begin with its likely origins in the 18th century, centered around the farm villages of the Swiss Alps, where families melted cheese to serve with stale bread during the winter.

But 1930, when the Swiss Cheese Union declared fondue the country’s official national dish, is considered a major modern milestone. And 1964, when the World’s Fair brought Swiss fondue to New York, was the spark that turned into a fired-up 1970s American food fad.

Since then, fondue has been regarded as both comfy and kitschy. But undoubtedly, there’s always been a romantic, even theatrical appeal to gathering around a bubbling fondue pot and sipping a few drinks.

First opened in 1970 in Underground Atlanta, Dante’s Down the Hatch mixed fondue, cocktails and live jazz with a theatrical space made to look like a pirate ship.

ExploreObituary for Dante Stephensen, 84, iconic Atlanta restaurateur

By 1981, owner Dante Stephensen had relocated the restaurant to Buckhead, where he upped the ante by installing a moat inhabited by a 7-foot crocodile named Jerry.

What’s more, he produced only one chocolate fondue per day, and only on certain days, for a party of six to 12, at a cost of $19.50 per person.

With nearly 100 locations across the U.S., including four in metro Atlanta, the Melting Pot is among the longest-running and most successful fondue concepts.

As an undergrad at Florida State in the 1980s, I vividly remember some awkwardly exciting dates at the Melting Pot in Tallahassee. I later learned that it was just the second location in what would become a burgeoning franchise.

When it first opened in Maitland, Florida, in 1975, the Melting Pot menu offered just three items: Swiss cheese fondue, beef fondue, and chocolate fondue for dessert.

Nowadays, though, you can order a wide variety of proteins and vegetarian items served with seasonal vegetables, and you can prepare your entree in the fondue cooking style of your choice.

When it comes to making fondue at home, the tools are fairly simple. But especially if you plan to cook raw proteins, such as beef, chicken or shrimp, in broth or oil, investing in a stainless steel fondue pot is your best bet.

For melting cheese and chocolate, a heavy ceramic fondue pot will make preparation and cleanup much easier. Beyond that, some nonstick utensils, a stand with either an electric or Sterno-style burner, fondue forks and napkins are about all you need.

If you go big with a well-equipped fondue kit, or cobble together a mix of on-hand pots and pans, remember that fondue is about the experience as much as the food. Add some soft candlelight, the sounds of cool jazz, and a bit of bubbly, and you’ll set the scene.

RECIPES

With a starter, a main course and dessert, these fondue recipes can be made individually or combined for a restaurant-style three-course meal for four.

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Classic Cheese Fondue can be served with charcuterie, roasted potatoes, sliced apples, crusty bread, gherkins and pickled onions. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Classic Cheese Fondue can be served with charcuterie, roasted potatoes, sliced apples, crusty bread, gherkins and pickled onions. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

caption arrowCaption
Classic Cheese Fondue can be served with charcuterie, roasted potatoes, sliced apples, crusty bread, gherkins and pickled onions. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Classic Cheese Fondue

From Swiss winter classic to the centerpiece of American fondue restaurants, melted cheese pleases by simply dipping into it with bread or almost anything savory. Kirsch is a type of brandy made from cherries that gives some additional flavor to fondue, and is said to make the cheese more digestible. If you can’t find kirsch, you can substitute brandy or cognac, or simply leave it out.

Classic Cheese Fondue
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 pound Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/2 pound Emmenthal cheese, grated
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kirsch
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Rub the inside of an enameled cast-iron fondue pot with the garlic clove and discard. Add the grated Gruyere and Emmenthal, combine with the wine, cornstarch and lemon juice and place on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cheeses begin to melt, about 5 minutes. Add the kirsch and a generous pinch each of pepper and nutmeg and cook, stirring gently, until creamy and smooth, about 10 minutes.
  • Set the fondue pot on a stand and light the burner underneath, keeping the flame low. If you are using an electric fondue pot, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Serve with crusty bread and anything from charcuterie and roasted potatoes to sliced apples, gherkins and pickled onions. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 764 calories (percent of calories from fat, 69), 49 grams protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 54 grams total fat (32 grams saturated), 178 milligrams cholesterol, 920 milligrams sodium.
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Beef Fondue can be served with a variety of sauces (international sauces may include chimichurri, bearnaise, sour cream and horseradish or peanut satay), mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, roasted potatoes and a simple green salad. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Beef Fondue can be served with a variety of sauces (international sauces may include chimichurri, bearnaise, sour cream and horseradish or peanut satay), mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, roasted potatoes and a simple green salad. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

caption arrowCaption
Beef Fondue can be served with a variety of sauces (international sauces may include chimichurri, bearnaise, sour cream and horseradish or peanut satay), mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, roasted potatoes and a simple green salad. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Beef Fondue

Beef fondue is more like campfire cooking than dipping, with tender, cubed pieces of tenderloin or sirloin plunged into hot oil. Serve with a variety of sauces and accompaniments for a main course.

Beef Fondue
  • 1 pound beef tenderloin or sirloin, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups grapeseed oil, peanut oil or other vegetable frying oil
  • Toss the cubed beef with salt and pepper and bring to room temperature.
  • In a metal fondue pot, heat the oil on the stove to 160 degrees. Transfer the pot to the fondue stand and light the burner to maintain the heat. If you are using an electric fondue pot, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Divide the beef between 4 plates and arrange dipping sauces around the pot, along with an assortment of mustards, if desired.
  • The beef should cook in the oil for 20 seconds for rare, 30 seconds for medium and 1 minute for well done.
  • Serve with sauces (see recipes below), vegetables and a simple green salad. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 550 calories (percent of calories from fat, 85), 21 grams protein, no carbohydrates, no fiber, 52 grams total fat (13 grams saturated), 79 milligrams cholesterol, 56 milligrams sodium.

Chimichurri Sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small red chiles, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes to release all of the flavors into the oil before using. Makes 1/2 cup.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per tablespoon: 72 calories (percent of calories from fat, 88), trace protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 7 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 293 milligrams sodium.

Quick Bearnaise Sauce
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/8 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter until bubbling hot.
  • In a blender, add the vinegar and egg yolks and blend on high speed for several seconds. With the blender still running, remove the center lid of the blender. Pour the hot butter in a thin, steady stream into the egg mixture. Add the tarragon and shallot and continue to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 1 cup.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per tablespoon: 57 calories (percent of calories from fat, 97), trace protein, trace carbohydrates, trace fiber, 6 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 27 milligrams cholesterol, 46 milligrams sodium.

Sour Cream and Horseradish Sauce
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons grated horseradish
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 3/4 cup.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per tablespoon: 23 calories (percent of calories from fat, 71), trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 2 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 36 milligrams sodium.

Peanut Satay Sauce
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, curry paste, fish sauce, salt and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer until combined and thickened (about 5-6 minutes). Once thickened, take off heat and stir in the lime juice. Makes 1 cup.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per tablespoon: 52 calories (percent of calories from fat, 68), 1 gram protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 173 milligrams sodium.
caption arrowCaption
Chocolate Fondue can be served with items such as strawberries, cherries, pineapple, pound cake and marshmallows. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Chocolate Fondue can be served with items such as strawberries, cherries, pineapple, pound cake and marshmallows. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

caption arrowCaption
Chocolate Fondue can be served with items such as strawberries, cherries, pineapple, pound cake and marshmallows. (Styling by Lisa Hanson / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Chocolate Fondue

Likely America’s contribution to fondue, chocolate is the perfect dipping dessert with fruit or pieces of pound cake.

Chocolate Fondue
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 pound premium chocolate chips, or chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • Add about 4 inches of water to a saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Place a mixing bowl on top of the saucepan and pour in the heavy cream and heat to a low simmer. When the cream feels hot to the touch, add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla and brandy.
  • Pour into the fondue pot, set on a stand, and light the burner underneath, keeping the flame low. If you are using an electric fondue pot, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Serve with strawberries, bananas, pineapple, marshmallows, cubed pound cake or even crispy bacon, for dipping. Serves 4 (or more).

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, based on 4: 967 calories (percent of calories from fat, 67), 8 grams protein, 76 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 77 grams total fat (48 grams saturated), 135 milligrams cholesterol, 45 milligrams sodium.

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