It's hard not to love fondue: it's easy to prepare, fun to eat and clean-up is easy. You can eat it by yourself and it will taste just as good, but eating fondue is meant to be interactive and social, whether you're serving it to your family or for a dinner party. Best of all, you can fondue every course for an impressive dinner.
Traditional cheese fondue is rooted in Swiss culture, and is what people often think of when they think of a fondue party. Choose a cheese that melts smoothly, such as Gruyère, Muenster or Gouda. Shred the cheese and toss it with corn starch -- about 3 tbsp. to 1 lb. of cheese. Heat 1 cup of white wine and a squirt of lemon juice over in a double boiler, then gradually add the cheese until it's melted and smooth. Stir in a splash of kirschwasser, a clear cherry brandy, if desired. Transfer to a fondue pot and serve with cubes of crusty bread.
Vegetables can be served as their own course, or as part of the main course with your chosen proteins. There are a few ways to serve vegetables for fondue. You can steam veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and serve them with a cheese or cream sauce for dipping, or you can serve raw veggies such as green beans, bell peppers and carrots and blanch them at the table in hot broth. You can also cook vegetables at the table in hot oil; set out bowls of tempura batter and coat the vegetables before cooking in the oil.
Meat, Poultry and Seafood
Beef, lamb, pork, chicken and shrimp can be cooked at the table in hot oil or broth. Cut the raw meat or poultry into 1-inch pieces -- shrimp can be cooked whole, though you may want to peel and devein them -- and set it on the table in chilled bowls. Skewer a piece with a fondue fork and cook in 375-degree oil for about a minute, or until it's cooked to the desired doneness. Serve with rice and a selection of unheated dipping sauces.
Chocolate fondue has become the most ostentatious of all of the fondues, with towering chocolate fondue fountains on display at weddings and other big events. Scaled down, a simple chocolate fondue made from chopped Swiss chocolate, cream and a splash of kirschwasser or orange liqueur is more decadent than anything that flows from a fountain. If melting chocolate seems daunting or you're in a hurry, you can heat bottled hot fudge, caramel or fruit preserves with a little liqueur. Serve your dessert fondue with strawberries, slices of bananas and apples, marshmallows and chunks of pound cake.
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