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What is Fondue?

By Lorna W.
Updated May 16, 2024
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Fondue first became popular in the US in the 1970s, but it's been around in some form ever since. It's a unique form of cooking that allows diners to make their food as they eat it. While eating it can be a solitary pursuit, it is best enjoyed with others, perhaps at a fondue party.

A fondue pot is basically a metal or ceramic bowl that is held up over a flame created by a can of jellied alcohol. They can be found at nearly any store that sells cooking utensils. Skewers are used to spear the food the diner wants to dip in the fondue, and usually come prepackaged with any pot. The pot can be used for both dipping and cooking.

There are two main dipping substances, cheese and chocolate. Cheese fondue is used with pieces of bread, crackers, and similar items. Chocolate can be used with anything diners think would be tasty if dipped in it. Strawberries and other chunks of fruit and small cookies or chunks of cake are common. To create a cheese or chocolate fondue, the pot is simply filled with chunks of either and heated until the consistency is right for dipping. Cooks may want to add milk to thin the cheese or chocolate. It is also possible to find more complicated recipes if the cooks wants a gourmet flavor.

If someone wants to cook with your fondue pot, then small chunks of any kind of meat can be used. The smaller the bit of meat, the easier it will be to cook in the pot. Beef, chicken, and shrimp are popular choices. To begin cooking, cooking oil is added to the pot and heated it reaches 375°F (176.6°C). One piece of meat is then skewered and is left in the oil until it changes color. This can take a few minutes, which is why it is more fun to eat fondue at a social event; diners can talk and otherwise enjoy themselves while they wait. The meat can be eaten plain after it's cooked, or with a dipping sauce.

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Discussion Comments
By anon51734 — On Nov 08, 2009

When cooking in oil, you use a special fork to dip with, then transfer the bite of meat to your plate to be eaten with a regular fork, so as to avoid burning yourself with the hot metal of the fondue fork. Otherwise, it's pretty much as it is with any cheese dip or chocolate dip. Just be careful, since it's hot.

By olittlewood — On Jan 01, 2008

what is basic fondue etiquette? i'm sure there must be some rules out there! i know that with chips and dip, you can't redip a chip you've taken a bite out of (a la George Costanza on Seinfeld!). i guess it depends on how close you are to the people sharing the fondue pot with, and how germ-phobic they (or you) are!

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