The holidays are over, and the long, cold winter looms ahead. Relish the hours spent inside by fondueing. Equally perfect for an intimate evening or a casual, participation dinner with friends, fondue is more than bread and cheese (but it is that, too.) Get inspired by the following cook-it-yourself options, complete with wines to match:
Gruyère Cheese Fondue
Fondue became popular centuries ago in Switzerland, where Gruyère, Emmental and Raclette cheeses were mixed with Kirsch, and bread dipped into the creamy concoction made for a cozy and communal meal. Cheese fondue may be the ultimate comfort food for a blustery winter evening.
Accompaniments: Crusty baguette; salami; cubes of Granny Smith apples; marinated mushrooms; gherkins.
Wine pairing: The crispness in an off-dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc cuts through the rich Gruyère, while the wines’ fruity notes pair with apples or pears dipped in the cheese.
Hot oil sears food’s exterior, while sealing in the juices. It’s a rich, decadent style of fondue that’s perfect for choice cuts of beef and firm fish. And hot oil fondue makes killer fried potatoes. Use vegetable or corn oil, and make sure the temperature remains about 375 degrees. Any lower and the food will absorb too much oil.
Accompaniments: Small cubes of raw beef tenderloin, chicken breast or swordfish; mushrooms; sweet onion; cubes of baked, yet still firm skin-on potatoes.
Wine pairing: Sparkling wine offsets the greasiness in fried foods, so sip a Spanish Cava or an Italian Prosecco.
Beef Broth Fondue (Court Bouillon)
This low-calorie, yet flavorful fondue, similar to Chinese Hot Pot, involves simmering beef broth and red wine with garlic and herbs. And the best part may be sipping the savory, seasoned broth that remains at the end.
Accompaniments: Small cubes of raw beef tenderloin; mushrooms; blanched pearl onions; blanched broccoli florets.
Wine pairing: Try an earthy red Côtes du Rhône or non-classified Bordeaux, which go well with this almost-braised style of cooking beef and vegetables.
Although some may immediately think of chocolate when they hear fondue, fondue-as-dessert actually didn’t originate until the 1960s. Use high quality dark or milk chocolate, and get creative by stirring in flaked coconut, mini-marshmallows or toasted hazelnuts.
Accompaniments: Cubed pound cake; strawberries; banana slices; kiwi slices; pineapple cubes.
Wine pairing: Banyuls, the red dessert wine made in southern France, pairs wonderfully with chocolate fondue. Its nutty notes are similar to a tawny port, though it’s lighter and less sweet, while good acidity keeps the wine (and the dessert) from becoming cloying.
1 large garlic clove, halved
1 cup dry or off-dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups shredded gruyère cheese
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon Kirsch (optional)
Salt and white pepper
Accompaniments: Cubes of crusty baguette; cubes or slices of salami; cubes of Granny Smith apples; grapes; cooked mushrooms; gherkins or cornichons.
Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the cut garlic cloves, and then discard them. Adjust the fondue pot to medium heat. Add the wine and lemon juice, and bring to a simmer. Gradually add the gruyère cheese and the cornstarch, stirring constantly. Add the Kirsch, if using, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon in a “figure eight” motion until the mixture has thickened, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and transfer the pot to the table.
Court Bouillon Fondue
2 cans (10.5 oz. each) beef broth (may use low sodium if desired)
1 cup dry red wine (such as Côtes du Rhône)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
Several sprigs of fresh rosemary
Several sprigs of fresh parsley
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
Freshly cracked pepper
Add all ingredients to the fondue pot, and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. When ready to use, bring to a boil, then transfer the fondue pot to the table, keeping the temperature at a high simmer/low boil. Add more broth and/or wine if needed.
Accompaniments: Small cubes of raw beef tenderloin; raw mushrooms; blanched pearl onions; blanched broccoli florets.
Fondue Dipping Sauces:
Try some of these dipping sauces alongside food cooked in oil or broth fondue. All amounts are to taste, depending on the amount of sauce you need:
Horseradish Cream Sauce: Sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, salt, freshly ground pepper.
Indian Curry Sauce: Sour cream or plain yogurt, curry powder, finely minced cilantro, salt, white pepper.
Sesame Ginger Sauce: Sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, grated ginger minced garlic, sesame seeds, freshly ground pepper.
Red Wine Vinaigrette: Olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, fresh or dried basil, salt, freshly ground pepper.
Kelly Magyarics is a wine educator and writer in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached through her website, www.trywine.net.