Fondue Tips

  • For cheese and chocolate fondue use shallow, heavy bottomed cast-iron or porcelain fondue pot. Do not use a porcelain fondue pot for meat because they will not withstand the high temperature required for oil.
  • For meat fondue use metal or cast iron pot because of the higher cooking temperature. The metal Fondue pot also can be used for vegetables and tempura dishes.
  • Always prepare the fondue on the stovetop first, then transfer the hot mixture to the fondue pot.
  • Never fill more than 1/3 of the fondue pot with melted cheese, oil or chocolate because it may bubble up when raw food is added.
  • When serving fondue always protect your tabletop by placing the fondue pot on a sturdy trivet.
  • Proper temperature for the oil is 325 to 375 degrees F (165 -190 degrees C). Oil should be simmering, NEVER BOILING. The heat source should be adjusted regularly to keep the oil as close to the frying temperature during cooking as possible. You can also test oil temperature with a fat thermometer or cubes of bread (at correct temperature oil will brown bread in less than 60 seconds).
  • Serve cheese fondues with various breads for dipping. Even stale bread can taste delicious when swirled in the creamy cheese sauce. Bread should include crusts to help stay on the forks.
  • For the chocolate fondue prepare brownies, pound cake, biscotti, dried fruits or various seasonal fresh fruits such as strawberries, bananas, cherries, grapes or peaches for dipping.
  • Squeeze lemon juice over fresh cut vegetables to prevent browning. Vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli taste better and cook faster if they are blanched or lightly steamed first.
  • For oil or broth fondues use high sided fondue that will keep spatters and allow you to fully immerse whatever you're cooking. Do not leave fondue pot unattended. Supervise children closely.
  • A great substitute for a fondue pot is a little wok.
  • Too many forks in the fondue pot at once reduce the heat of the oil and slow down cooking time. So, if you've got a large group to feed, have two or more pots of fondue going simultaneously. No more than six people should be seated at a fondue pot unless it's a cocktail-style party. Make sure the forks are dry before dunking.
  • Use fondue forks with different shaped handles or colors so guests can determine whose forks are whose.
  • Never try to eat directly from the fondue fork because they can get extremely hot. Dinner forks should be available.
  • Proper fondue plates should have separate compartments for sauces, vegetables, and meat.
  • Uncooked meat and vegetables should be always served separately.
  • Provide variety of dipping sauces with fondue like: teriyaki, green peppercorn, tarragon, ginger-plum, gorgonzola, curry, green goddess, pesto, marinara and horseradish.
  • To serve sauces you can also use small bowls.
  • Never use fondue forks for dipping, because that may transfer sauce to the cooking oil, creating sediment in the oil, and reduce frying temperature.
  • For a lighter healthy version of the meat fondue replace the cooking oil with stock or broth.
  • Serve raw meat, poultry and fish for fondue on beds of ice. Keep in mind that raw meat should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • As with other communal dishes, fondue has an etiquette. Most often, allowing one's tongue or lips to touch the dipping fork will be thought of as rude.

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Did You Know?
The earliest record of a fondue  is a recipe for a sauce made from Pramnos wine, grated goat's cheese and white flour that appears in Scroll 11 (lines 629-645) of Homer's Iliad.

Swiss communal fondue arose many centuries ago as a result of food preservation methods. The Swiss food staples bread and raclette-like cheese made in summer and fall were meant to last throughout the winter months. The bread aged, dried out and became so tough it was sometimes chopped with an axe. The stored cheese also became very hard, but when mixed with wine and heated it softened into a thick sauce. During Switzerland's long, cold winters some families and extended groups would gather about a large pot of cheese set over the fire and dip wood-hard bits of bread which quickly became edible.

Modern fondue originated during the 18th century in the canton of Neuchâtel. As Switzerland industrialized, wine and cheese producers encouraged the dish's popularity. By the 20th century many Swiss cantons and even towns had their own local varieties and recipes based on locally available cheeses, wines and other ingredients.

During the 1950s a slowing cheese industry in Switzerland widely promoted fondue since one person could easily eat half a pound of melted cheese in one sitting.

In 1955, the first pre-mixed "instant" fondue was brought to market.

Fondue became popular in the United States during the mid-1960s after American tourists discovered it in Switzerland.

Dessert fondue recipes began appearing in the 1960s. Slices of fruit or pastry are dipped in a caquelon of melted chocolate. Other dessert fondues can include coconut, honey, caramel and marshmallow.

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