It’s cold outside! I’ve lived in Texas for 10 years now, but I grew up in Wisconsin, and chilly air is like Pavlov’s bell to this Cheesehead. I start craving melted cheese.
My favorite fondue method is a little unorthodox. Rather than heating wine and tossing corn starch coated cheese into the pool, I love to start by making a roux and building a lovely béchamel. The resulting texture is velvety. I like to use a combination of both milk and wine, like you would in a wine cream sauce. It’s a bit less boozy which is nice for family fondue night. This uber-garlicky fondue is just as nice for roasted veggies as it is for bread. Really. I know that that’s not generally true, but you need to trust me here.
It is of utmost importance that you cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces. Your guests will be armed with nothing but a fondue fork, and will not be singing your praises if you make them feel like a moose, trying to navigate a ginormous piece of broccoli into their mouth. Seriously. No one feels attractive with an overstuffed broccoli mouth. My husband, the physics major – I’ll call him Nerd Boy for my purposes here – would have you scale down the size of all objects to be dipped for a different reason. It increases the surface area that cheese can adhere to, resulting in a higher cheese to bread ratio.
Hope you love it! I’ll talk about my favorite cheese books and my favorite fondue pot after the recipe….
Jen’s Garlic and Basil Fondue
I get everything from the To Serve: section below prepped and ready for the oven before I get going with the fondue.
1 cup whole milk
1 ¼ cups pinot grigio or chardonnay (Trader Joe’s $2 bottle is perfect here. Any white wine you wouldn’t mind in your glass will do.)
Warm in a small saucepan on low to use later. It will look weird. See pic below. Don’t worry.
6 Tablespoons butter, softened (preferred brand: Land O’ Lakes unsalted)
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (preferred brand: King Arthur)
4 cloves garlic, minced
Stir together in a medium saucepan. Turn to medium. Once the butter is melted, whisk together for about 3 minutes, until it starts to color just slightly.
Slowly whisk in the milk and wine, and cook til it starts to thicken, about 3 minutes.
12 oz (about 3 cups) fontina, shredded (Delicious Italian cheese with a slightly nutty flavor)
12 oz (about 3 cups) butterkäse, shredded (Gorgeous buttery cheese from Wisconsin)
3 Tablespoons parmesan or romano
(Don’t make yourself nuts if you can’t find these cheeses. They’re my favorite for this, but a nice Gouda or Monterey Jack would work well, too.) Add, 1 handful at a time, stirring until smooth and lovely, before moving onto the next handful.
1 small stem of Genovese basil (1/3 cup, packed), leaves only, minced
Stir in and transfer to fondue pot.
Heat the oven to 500°F. Grab two baking sheets. When they’re spread out, they roast instead of steaming. Veggies don’t like to be overcrowded.
16 oz button or cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, just the end of the stem removed. These were big, so I halved them, but you don’t need to if they’re little.
3 T olive oil
½ t salt
¼ t pepper (or a few grinds)
Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, spread out on a baking sheet, and roast at 500°F for 15 minutes, stem side down, so any liquid released will stay on that baking sheet and not ooze up your lovely serving tray.
2 broccoli crowns, cut into bite-size florets
3 T olive oil
½ t salt
¼ t pepper (or a few grinds)
It is of utmost importance that you cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces. Your guests will be armed with nothing but a fondue fork, and will not be singing your praises if you make them feel like a moose, trying to navigate a ginormous piece of broccoli into their mouth. Seriously. No one feels attractive with an overstuffed broccoli mouth. Okay, now that it’s properly cut up, toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper, spread out on a different baking sheet, and roast at 500°F for 10 minutes.
One loaf of crusty, fragrant, delicious bread, cut into about ¾ inch cubes. Not kidding. If you’re buying grocery store bread, smell it. Fragrance is flavor, my friends. 🙂
My Amazon Affiliate links for my cheesy favorites. A big thank you for using the links if you decide to make a purchase. I get a petite percentage that helps keep me in the kitchen.
Cuisinart CFO-3SS Electric Fondue Maker – I have several fondue pots, but this is my favorite. I like that it’s electric and I don’t have to deal with sternos, and worry about uneven heating and temperature regulation. This has a temp control dial, and heats beautifully. I turn the dial to 2 to keep a piping hot fondue nice and warm. The shape of it is fantastic. It’s wide and shallow. Traditional fondue works in either, but this increases visibility, and makes it possible to dip tortilla chips in for queso, which is really awkward in a traditional deep pot. The only head-scratcher with this is that they warn you not to use an extension cord. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a power outlet in the middle of my table. I’m assuming that they just don’t want to be liable if someone trips, so I ignored them and pulled out my extension cord.
Dip Into Something Different: A Collection of Recipes from Our Fondue Pot to Yours – This is Melting Pot’s classic and creative fondue book.
QUESO!: Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip – Killer Tex-Mex fondue book from Lisa Fain, author of Homesick Texan. I have another post reviewing that book with a recipe to try. Here’s the link. You should really make that. It’s delicious.
The Mac + Cheese Cookbook: 50 Simple Recipes from Homeroom, America’s Favorite Mac and Cheese Restaurant – Best macaroni and cheese book in the whole wide world.
I have a raclette that I adore, too. But I’ll talk to you about that next week. 🙂