Bringin’ back a little of the 70s here but who cares? I’ve got 2 fondue pots and had the itch to use them recently as I was planning on having a couple of girlfriends from college for dinner while I had a dear friend from freshman year of college stay for the weekend. (As an aside: I went to a small state school in [way] upstate New York for my freshman year of college and then transferred to another school in Connecticut where I finished my final 3 years. My friend, Kristin (Kris), and I lived on the same floor freshman year and have remained friends ever since – it’s been 10 years now since I transferred to CT – yikes how the time does fly!! The pic below is us with a couple friends from that year. I’m at the top, Kris is on the bottom right with the hat on.)
OK, enough memories and back to the food. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pics of the fondue but I can truly say that both fondues (pizza and Italian cheese) came out great and the fondue idea overall was a big hit. We were able to sit around, pick away, and chat while the fondue vanished. It really was quite a relaxing dinner. Instead of a meal I was slaving over in the kitchen to prepare, I had the pizza fondue all cooked before the girls arrived and kept it warm on the stove while we had appetizers. For the cheese fondue, I prepped everything a day in advance (including the dipping items) so literally all I had to do was toss the ingredients in a pot on the stove, cook to the right consistency, and pour it in the fondue pot. I opted for the electric fondue pot for the cheese fondue so that the heat could be kept a bit more stable and put the pizza fondue in a traditional fondue pot with a Sterno underneath (covered half-way because the flame was too high).
As I mentioned, both fondues went over with rave reviews. For dipping items, I kept it simple: roasted garlic ciabatta bread, another kind of rustic bread called rustica (I don’t make these things up), blanched broccoli florets, and red peppers cut to about 1 1/2″ pieces. The cheese fondue had a real nice deep flavor with the combo of Gruyere and Pinot Grigio and the pizza fondue really does taste like pizza (it’s a recipe my mom either found or made up years ago. She used to make it on cold winter nights and we ate while sitting in front of the fire.)
Overall it was a fun night with great friends and delicious food and I’m thinking about making it a yearly tradition so we’ll see what kind of fondue next year brings!
Italian Cheese Fondue
source: Giada De Laurentiis
- 8 ounces grated Fontina
- 8 ounces grated Gruyere
- 5 teaspoons cornstarch
- 6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
- 2 cups dry white wine (such as Pinot Grigio)
- Freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Bite-size pieces of focaccia, sliced salami, fresh fennel, Belgian endive, steamed broccoli florets and asparagus spears, for dipping
- Toss the Fontina and Gruyere cheese with the cornstarch in a medium bowl to coat.
- Saute the pancetta in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat until crisp and golden, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate. Pour off any excess oil.
- Pour the wine into the same saucepan and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium. Whisk 1 handful of the cheese mixture into the wine until it is almost melted. Repeat with the remaining cheese mixture in about 4 more batches. Continue whisking until the cheese is completely melted and the fondue bubbles, about 1 minute. Stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the pancetta. Season the fondue with pepper, to taste.
- Transfer the cheese mixture to a fondue pot. Sprinkle with the remaining pancetta and chives. Set the pot over a candle or a canned heat burner. Serve with focaccia and vegetables.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 2 cans (10.5oz) pizza sauce (I used about 2 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce)
- 1 1/2 tsp fennel seed
- 1 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 1/2 cups (10oz) shredded cheddar
- 1 cup (4oz) shredded mozzarella
- Italian or French bread for dipping
- In a saucepan over medium heat, brown onion and ground beef. Drain.
- Stir in sauce and seasonings and heat through. Add cheese by handfuls, stirring each handful until cheese is almost fully melted.
- Pour into fondue pot and keep hot while serving. Serve with bread cut into pieces or serve over toasted English muffins for lunch.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes