Sunday, February 14, 2010

Forgo the Melting Pot, enjoy fondue at home!

I have a friend at work that loves to go to the Melting Pot.  I have been to the Melting Pot once or twice, and although my meals have always been good, I just can't help but think it is so easy and WAY cheaper to do fondue at home.  Now I'm sure many married couples have a fondue pot that they got for their wedding and have never really used it, maybe once for a chocolate fondue dessert.  Maybe its because my parents were hippies but I grew up loving to eat a fondue dinner. 

Fondue dinner is so flexible for lots of guests and really doesn't require much work at all.  Here is my approach to fondue dinner, whether for two or ten people.  Choose 5 - 6 vegetables.  Chop up about 1/2 cup of each vegetable (for two people) in large chunks.  I choose zucchini, broccolini, green peppers, green beans, and onions.  The carrots aren't really for cooking, just for snacking.  Arrange on a plate.

Next for the proteins - choose three - five proteins depending on what your guests enjoy.  We have hear peeled, deveined shrimp, mahi-mahi, and grass fed beef strip steak.  Cut into large chunks.  Season with salt and pepper and arrange on a plate.

Next make some dipping sauces!  Here you can go with a combo of pre-made sauces and homemade sauces.  You can base your sauces on what types of proteins and veggies you are serving.  I always have some sort of Asian/teryaki type sauce.  Most of the time I buy this - I like Soy Vay Veri Veri Teryaki.  Or Trader Joe's potsticker dipping sauce.  Most of the times I have tried to make Asian dipping sauces the results have been far inferior to the pre-made.  

I also do a garlic butter.  Melt 3 tablespoons of salted butter in a small skillet over medium heat and add 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Cook until the garlic is softened and fragrant, being careful not to burn it, about 5 - 10 minutes.

I really like a green goddess - type sauce for the veggies.  I take creme fraiche (you can use sour cream) about 4 oz.  (optional - 2 oz. softened cream cheese) and add 1/4 cup of chopped parsley, basil and dill.  Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.  Let this sit for about 30 mins before eating.

I like a curry mayo as well.  Take 2 tablespoons of good mayo, 1 tablespoon of sour cream or yogurt, and 1 teaspoon of curry powder (I like hot Madras curry) and combine.

Finally, a horseradish sauce, either pre-made or fresh using 1 cup sour cream, 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 scallions, finely chopped, 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and
salt and pepper to taste.  Blend together!

Here are my dipping sauces.  Bottom left - asian, center - green goddess, top left - horseradish, top right - garlic butter, bottom right - curry mayo.

Finally - the cooking.  I like the traditional hot oil cooking method - which if you keep your oil hot enough you can keep the food from absorbing too much of it.  You can use a flavored bouillon (beef, chicken or veggie broth with various seasonings) instead of oil.

If you use oil, a tempura batter for veggies and some of the seafood is in order.

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

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