Plan an extravagant dinner with Valentine’s Day fondue

Fondues, popular in the 1970s, are making a comeback.

They are suitable for a casual party or a romantic dinner for two so offer a unique meal choice for Valentine’s Day.

There are four kinds of fondues, including cheese, chocolate, hot oil and hot broth, and a variety of pot choices.

Both a cheese and chocolate fondue require a heavy pot for even heat distribution. A ceramic pot is often used but cast iron will also work.

Copper provides even heat distribution but it cannot handle the high temperature requirements of an oil or broth fondue.

Traditional pots use gel or canned fuel. Electric pots with thermostats to maintain temperatures are now available but they must be placed near an electrical outlet.

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Another useful feature is a ring that fits on top of the pot to hold the forks in place.

This is especially useful with an oil or broth fondue because the meat and vegetables need time to cook. With colour-coded forks, guests can identify their own.

Extra forks are also handy.

Traditional Cheese Fondue

Emmental and gruyere are the most commonly used cheeses in a classic fondue, but most cheeses low in moisture also work fine.
Cornstarch keeps the cheese and wine from separating.

  • 1 clove garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 1/2 c. dry white wine 375 mL
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch 15 mL
  • 2 tsp. kirsch, optional 10 mL
  • 7 oz. emmental cheese, coarsely grated 750 mL
  • 7 oz. gruyere, coarsely, grated 750 mL

Rub inside of a four-quart (4 L) heavy pot with cut sides of garlic and then discard garlic. Add wine to pot and bring to a simmer over moderate heat.
Stir cornstarch and kirsch in a cup. Water or wine can be substituted for kirsch.
Gradually add cheese to pot and cook, stirring constantly in a zigzag rather than circular motion to prevent cheese from balling up. Stir until cheese is just melted and creamy. Do not let boil.
Stir cornstarch mixture again and add to fondue. Bring fondue to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, five to eight minutes.
Transfer to fondue pot set over a flame. Keep an eye on the cheese and regulate the flame so it doesn’t boil.
Prepare a variety of items for dipping. Cubed rustic bread, roasted baby potatoes, raw vegetables and sliced pears or apples taste good with the cheese.

Mongolian Lamb Hot Pot

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It is easier to slice the lamb paper-thin if it is partially frozen. Use a sharp knife. If you don’t have a fondue pot, an electric wok works just as well.

  • 8 c. rich lamb or chicken stock 2 L
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced 15 mL
  • 6 green onions, finely chopped
  • 4 oz. dried bean thread noodles, soaked and cut into bite-sized pieces 115 g
  • 1 lb. leafy greens, such as spinach, bok choy or Napa cabbage, chopped into bite sized pieces 500 g
  • 3/4 lb. boneless lamb, sliced paper-thin 750 g

Sesame Chili Sauce

  • 3 dried chilis, seeded and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. sugar 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. sesame paste 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil 5 mL
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. black vinegar star anise black vinegar reduction 30 mL
  • 1 c. black vinegar 250 mL
  • 2 whole pods star anise

Place the stock, ginger, garlic and green onions in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Soak noodles in warm water until softened. Drain and cut into bite-sized lengths.
Cut the greens into bite-sized pieces and lamb into paper-thin, bite-sized slices. Arrange the noodles, lamb and vegetables on a large platter. Cover and chill until ready to cook. Reheat the broth to simmering.
Set a metal fondue pot with lighted fuel under it in the centre of a table. Pour the broth into the pot and adjust the heat so that the broth simmers gently. Guests can use chopsticks or fondue forks to cook the lamb and vegetable slices. Serve with sesame chili or star anise black vinegar dipping sauces, if desired.
After the meat and vegetables are eaten, add the noodles and any remaining greens to the broth to make the soup.

Sesame Chili Sauce

Mince chili and garlic finely and place in a mortar. Mash with the heel of a cleaver or pestle. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add sesame paste, sesame oil, soy sauce and black vinegar, stirring between each addition.

Star Anise Black Vinegar Reduction

Place vinegar and star anise in a small saucepot and simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half, about seven minutes. Remove star anise before serving.
Source: Adapted from Emeril Lagasse.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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