January 01, 2008

Best Fondue Ever



Ingredients:
for the stock*
6 black peppercorns
4 cloves
3 stalks celery
3 carrots
3 green onions
3 cloves garlic crushed
2 bay leaves
1 piece ginger root, peeled and smashed
one fennel root with greens, sliced thickly
one bunch parsley
1 onion quartered
1 lb chicken necks (or any other cheap and boney cut of chicken)
1 lb beef neck bones (or any other inexpensive beef bones)
shells and heads from 1 lb of shrimp**
salt to taste

to dip:
(all raw)
broccoli
tiny potatoes
crimini mushrooms, stems removed
peeled shrimp
scallops
firm squash
dumplings
marinated chicken, cut into manageable strips
marinated beef, cut into manageable strips


dipping sauce suggestions:
creamy dips (for the veggies)
dumpling dipping sauce
teriyaki sauce
cocktail sauce
tarter sauce
plum sauce
mustard

Directions:
To make the stock:
Time warning: this is best done the night before you want to use the stock.
Place all of the stock ingredients in the largest stock pot that you have. Cover them with water, bring the stock just to the boiling point and then lower the heat. Simmer on low for 4 hours, periodically skimming the scum that rises to the surface. Strain stock and discard solids. Strain a second time through a strainer lined with a cheese cloth. If you do not have a cheesecloth you can also line the strainer with a damp paper towel. This is very effective but also more time-consuming. Refrigerate the stock until cold (preferably overnight) and then skim off any solid fat that floats on top.

Optional but suggested: After you fill your fondue pot, add some extra flavor that compliments the flavors of the food and the dipping sauces. For example, we were having dumplings so we stirred in a couple of tablespoons of shaoxing wine, a splash of black vinegar, some sliced green onions and a drop of black sesame oil.


To fondue:
Make sure your fondue pot isn't filled past the max fill line before heating. It is important to wait until the broth is quite hot (steaming, starting to bubble) before dipping the raw food or it will take an inordinate amount of time to cook anything and you run the risk of taking the food out before it is thoroughly cooked.

Place the raw meat and seafood on a chilled plate. Arrange everything else in small bowls. Spear the food with your fondue fork and cook 1-4 minutes or until the food is cooked thoroughly. Remove the food from your fondue fork and use a regular fork to dip the food in sauce (optional) and eat. Resist the urge to eat off of the fondue fork, while the food you are eating is cooked, the rest of the fork has some into contact with raw food. I suggest having a separate plate where you can "test" foods you're not sure about to make sure they are cooked thoroughly, this helps cut down the risk of cross contamination.

*Check the max fill line on your fondue pot. This recipe will most likely yield more stock than you can use. I suggest freezing the leftovers to use the next time you need stock.

** If you cannot find heads-on shrimp, you can use just the shells. However heads impart a lot of flavor. We get ours at an Asian grocery. Just cut off the heads and save the shrimp to dip in the broth.




My thoughts:

Last year we started a new tradition. On New Year's Eve, eat only food introduced in a certain decade and watch movies from the same era. Last year it was the '80s and I made poke cake and pesto pizza with sun-dried tomatoes. Working backwards, this year it was the '70s and we made fondue and California rolls (invented in CA during the 1970s). Fondue had been around for years before the 1970s but that is when it really took off in the US, especially the brothy, non-dessert, non-cheese fondues. The popular Melting Pot chain of fondue restaurants opened in 1975.

Anyway, Matt spent most of Sunday making the broth and then today I stirred in the final ingredients and assembled the dips and dippers. I love fondue because not only is it fun and interactive, it requires little prep. No cooking before you eat, just setting up and if you make the broth the day before (or use broth leftover from something else) there is virtually nothing to do the day you fondue. And it is super easy to eat while watching a slew of '70s movies.

Some tips: Making the broth and then flavoring it seems like a lot of work, but it is worth it. Even with the dips, the actual food you eat can be on the bland side if it is not cooked in a flavorful broth. I also recommend buying a fondue pot that can actually cook the broth and not the kind that just has a candle underneath to keep things warm. The tealight kind is cheaper, and the candle might work okay for keeping chocolate or cheese fondue liquid and warm but it really isn't powerful enough for an oil or broth fondue. Even if cheese or chocolate fondue is all you've ever had or think you'll ever want to have, you might as well spend the extra $20 or so and get a good set with a more powerful heat source and just have the option of making a broth or oil fondue. It is also much easier (and uses less dishes) to just cook the food in front of you rather than heating it up on the stove and then transferring it to the fondue pot to keep warm. My set came with a metal bowl for broth fondue and a ceramic one for cheese and chocolate fondues and uses a burner to heat things up. It even has a rotating rack for dips. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find it online to show you, but there are a lot of good fondue sets out there. I've also heard some positive things about electric fondue pots but I'd be sure to get one that has a bowl that can be lifted out for cleaning.

8 comments:

  1. My family loves fondue, but I never tried a broth. We would do a cheese fondue and then hot oil for the meats. I like your dipping suggestions of dumplings. I will definately try your recipe. Thanks!

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  2. That does look quite delicious!

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  3. We do fondue every year either Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve and we always use the broth fondue. Better for you and doesn't smell up the house!

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  4. We do a cheese and/or a beef (hot peanut oil) fondue every year at Christmas Eve. I love fondue and can't figure out why I don't make it any other time of year...

    BTW, if you're in the market for a really good 70s fondue pot -- one that uses denatured alcohol instead of the tealights to keep everything hot -- go to a Goodwill or other thrift store. You'll find a wealth of probably "new" (aka "sat in a closet for 30 years and was never used once") fondue pots. Honestly, they're better than anything that's sold today, and the funky colors only add to the fun. :)

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  5. maybe you already know about chinese hot pot, but you must try it if you like brothy-asiany fondue. i'm chinese, and grew up with it...you can read about my latest: http://gracelaced.wordpress.com/2007/12/30/cold-night-hot-pot/

    happy new year!

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  6. I usually do cheese fondue but this sounds like a wonderful (and lighter) alternative!

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  7. This is my favorite kind of fondue. Scott loves cheese fondue, but they're so heavy. Yours looks great and I'm bookmarking it.

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