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#1121 - Fondue for Valentine's Day
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February 12, 2013 #1121 Fondue for Valentine's Day
With Valentine's Day coming up on Thursday, there's just enough time to get the fixings for a delightful dinner with your honey. Now instead of proposing the usual two or three course meal, we thought we would suggest something a little off the beaten path, and that would be fondue. We think everybody knows what fondue is, but we'd bet not a whole lot of people try it.
Fondue was really popular about 40-50 years ago, and it was quite common to give a fondue pot as a wedding gift. Al still has his Avocado Green pot, but has lost the color-coded skewers. But fondue is a very romantic meal, and it's pretty much a guaranteed good time.
There are three kinds of fondue: hot oil, hot cheese, and hot chocolate.
Let's start with hot oil. Our recommendations would be either peanut oil or canola oil. Both have very high flash points, and are superb for cooking food, leaving little if any aftertaste. Resist the urge to use olive oil: it would be a disaster. And ordinary vegetable oil isn't very special. You just don't send out invitations for a Wesson Oil Fondue.
For the hot oil fondue, bite-sized pieces of chicken, beef or pork are good bets. You will skewer them, and immerse them in the oil (between 350 and 375 degrees), and let them cook. Ideally, it should take about a minute. Remember, accidents with hot oil are extremely painful and very dangerous, so take care!
Seafood is a possibility: shrimp, scallops and firm meaty fish like salmon or swordfish are good choices. But do not try meat and fish in the same fondue pot. If you can whip up a good tempura batter, you can also work veggies into the mix. Harder vegetable like carrots and sweet potatoes may need to be blanched before hand. Whatever your choice, be sure to have an array of dipping sauces on hand.
Cheese fondue is the Queen of the Night, in my opinion, and here are a few tips on bringing that off:
-rub the inside of the fondue pot with a garlic clove for a touch of flavor.
-select about 15 ounces of a dry, light white wine such as sauvignon blanc or the Spanish vidura, pour it in the pot and bring it to a gentle boil.
-use equal amounts of gruyere and emmenthaler (about 8 ounces of each).
-shred the cheese coarsely, and toss with corn starch...very important, and toss it into the boiling wine. It will melt almost instantly.
-add a shot of Kirsch to the final blend to elevate the flavors.
-use a cut-up baguette that you leave out all day, so it's nice and stale, and slice it into cubes.
For chocolate fondue, you'll want a very good chocolate, about 12 ounces, and some high quality cream. Again, you may finish with brandy or an orange liqueur like Courvoisier. Fresh fruit cut into bite-sized chunks is standard, and so is pound cake. Some recipes mention dried or candied fruit, and we can't see any reason not to try that.