Most people are familiar with chocolate fondue and cheese fondue, but no dining experience will ever be as fun as a hot oil fondue. My family has done fondue for Christmas for the past nine years, and for added bonus we do another on New Year’s Eve for all of our friends. The event has grown so large that the last two years; we have had to add a second night. For the most fun you ever had at the supper table you will need a variety of ingredients:
The first thing you are going to need is an electric fondue pot. That little thing with the candles you got for your wedding that you keep meaning to drag out and never do will serve no purpose here. I have had a number of fondue pots, and I recommend the 3- Quart capacity fondue pot from Rival. The other key ingredient is, of course, oil. The best oil for fondue is peanut oil, but to be fair, it’s a lot more expensive in most places that Canola, so either is fine. Next comes the fun part: The food!
Oil fondue is a matter of deep frying morsels of yummy goodness, one piece at a time which slows down the meal time and allows for a lot more family time. How many holidays have you spent slaving away all day in a hot kitchen only to see your unappreciative family devour all of your hard earned work in less than fifteen minutes? A fondue will be the end of all of that. In fact, even the preparation is a family affair.
At our house, we go all out for fondue. A typical fondue will consist of bite sized chunks of Chicken, Pork, Beef, Mushrooms, Bell peppers, Onion, potato (potatoes are done in slices not dices like other things) broccoli (make sure you burn the crown into a crispy mess of goodness), and Cauliflower. We also have shrimp, and jalapeño poppers, mini pirogues, and frozen breaded cheese sticks (best to put them out frozen and cook them that way), breaded chicken chunks, and all sorts of other little breaded appetizer chunks. Yes, I know, it sounds like a clogged artery, but you are worth it!
Then there are the sauces. Five “must have” sauces are sour cream mixed with Lipton onion soup, Sour Cream mixed with taco seasoning, Regular Sour Cream, Clarified butter with garlic powder, and clarified butter with curry powder. Other than that, the sky is the limit. Our sauces over the years have consisted of horse radish, honey mustard, all sorts of barbecue sauce, chili sauce, seafood sauce, tartar sauce, mint jelly, jalapeño jelly, Caribbean Jerk sauce, Satay Peanut Sauce, Chipotle lime marinade, and more. The more sauces you bring to fondue, the better. There is simply no wrong way to do it. One other item you will want is some sort of batter. I recommend either a tempura or a beer batter. Both are delicious.
Once you have engaged the family in cutting up and preparing trays off all of the delectable morsels that will be part of your fondue, it’s time to eat. Invariably, someone will want to “double” fork. That is to say, that the impatient members of your family will want to use more than one fondue fork at a time to speed the cooking and eating process. Hide the extra forks! It’s more fun one forkful at a time. You will want to make sure to have some tongs handy. Someone is going to lose their chosen bit of goodness into the oil and need to fish it out. In my family, when this happens, the price for the tongs is that the clumsy person has to sing us all a song. Some of us can sing while others only wish. In either case, it’s great fun!
There are a few rules of cooking your food in the fondue pot. Firstly, no more than one or two pieces should go on a fork at any given point and into the hot oil. Secondly, when you put your forkful into the oil, you will want to sick your fork under the others that are already in. In this manner, yours will rise to the top on the heap in time. Thirdly, fondue forks have colors on the tips. Remember your color. Fourthly, unless you wish to weld your lip to your teeth, do not, under any circumstances eat directly from the fondue fork. That oil is hot! Fifthly, either wear old clothes or else an apron. Oil and sauces will drip during the course of your meal. The final rule of fondue is, have a great time!
I consider myself a bit of a fondue evangelist. Everyone who has ever had fondue at our house has gone out to buy a fondue pot which they have used frequently ever since. I hope you will do the same. Happy eating!