I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog and what I’m trying to do/say with it. What it boils down to is I want to encourage and inspire YOU to throw a party! So, in 2012, each month I’ll be sharing a Party, On! post where I breakdown an objection I have heard that prevents someone from stepping up to the hostess plate. This month I’m tackling the number one reason I hear from people in my generation (I’m looking at you 20 to 30 somethings) – I can’t cook. Friends, welcome to the fondue party, where your guests do all the cooking! If you can wield a knife without severing a finger and manage to stir with a spoon, you CAN do this party!
Fondue and I go back a long way. In high school, my friend Rachel and I discovered her parents had not one, but two fondue sets, complete with lazy susans and tiny bowls for sauces. Harnessing my budding hostess yearnings, we set out to coordinate the finest fondue party Reston, Virginia had seen since 1973. Armed with a small budget (from several evenings of babysitting) and the original cookbook for one of the fondue sets, we gathered our ingredients and got to work.
Now, being 16, neither of us were accomplished cooks, but that was the major draw of the fondue party, we didn’t have to be! Now, I’m not going to lie and tell you a fondue party takes no effort. It actually takes quite a bit of prep work, but none of it is difficult. At our tender ages, we were still well equipped to stir together sauces and chop vegetables and meat.
If you have ever been to a Melting Pot restaurant, you already know the proper format for a fondue party: Cheese, Salad, Meat, Chocolate. You also know that 4 guests is a magic number for fondue. Any more, and there is major fork confusion. Any less, and it hardly seems worth the effort! If you’re not lucky enough to own a fondue pot, ask around and someone will gladly lend you theirs. Now, don’t freak out, but the shopping lists and instructions for each course is below.
Cream Cheese Fondue – this is NO FAIL easy-peasy cheese fondue. Plus, it’s delicious. Serves 4.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon sherry or white wine
1 cup half and half
8 ounces cream cheese (light is OK)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 baguette, cut into 1″ cubes
1 Granny Smith apple. cut into 1″ cubes
In fondue pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and saute 2-3 minutes until softened. Add sherry/wine and allow to almost evaporate, 1-2 minutes. Add half and half, reduce heat to low. Cut cream cheese into slices and add to pot. Stir until melted. Add Parmesan and Swiss cheeses, stir until melted. Add lemon juice, stir well. Fork those bread cubes and apples and dig in. When all the cheese is consumed, clean the fondue pot.
Salad, nothing special, just to clean the palate for the meat
One bag’o salad
Vinaigrette of your choice
Toss salad and vinaigrette. Serve.
Meat and Mushroom Fondue
1-1/2 pounds meat of your choice, chicken, steak, shrimp, fish cut into 1″ cubes
8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
4 cups chicken broth
Sauces (recipes below)
Heat chicken broth in fondue pot to boiling. Stab meat and cook in hot broth. Eat with sauces.
No we’re getting to the interesting part of a fondue party – the sauces. Here are a few that I really like, but feel free to try out others.
Sweet, Sour, and Spicy Fondue Sauce
1/8 cup hot pepper preserves
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
Combine all ingredients and serve. Best with chicken and shrimp
Dijon Dill Sauce
1/8 cup sour cream
1/8 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried dill
Combine all ingredients and serve. Best with chicken and mushrooms.
Green Goddess Sauce
1/8 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped green onions
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Combine all ingredients and serve. Good with pretty much everything.
Well, I thought I had a recipe saved, but darn if I can put my hands on it. This one from Michael Chiarello seems pretty close to what I normally do, and it’s a lot easier to link to him than go through my decade of recipe notes!
Yes, I know it’s a lot of ingredients and prep, but there really is nothing too hard about putting together a fantastic fondue party. No cooking skills required! I hope if you’ll give it a try and let me know how it goes!