Fondue pots inspire images of groovy 70's soirées and heavenly, yet super heavy, meals of bread chunks dunked in melted cheese. Today they're mainly used as the occasional novelty party dish, which is too bad. When you know how to use it right, your fondue pot can be a great tool for every day fun, too.
If you're still using the old avocado green fondue pot you rescued from your mom's last yard sale, you might want to consider an upgrade. Fondue pots come in a variety of forms, so make sure you have the right one for your personal fondue style. (Yes. There is such a thing.)
Ceramic/Earthenware: These adorably retro pots are typically made of ceramic or enamel-coated cast iron. They use a gel fuel burner to warm ingredients and are best suited for fondues that need low, slow heat like chocolate and cheese. What's great about this type of pot is that it doesn't need electricity. Try it for a fun twist at your next picnic, or romantic alfresco dinner.
Electric: Usually made of non-stick metal, a higher-powered electric fondue pot is best for cooking meat and veggies in high temp oils. They're great because you can easily control the temperature and clean up is a breeze.
Dessert/Novelty: More whimsical than workhorse, these little fondue pots are perfect for a chocolate fondue. Little sister to the chocolate fountain, they're heated with tea lights and will earn you instant cool cred at your kid's next playdate. They're also great as an easy dessert option for a dinner party, birthday party or any time you get a hankering for melted chocolate (aka every day).
6 Tips for Using Your Fondue Pot
- Whether you're using fruit, meat, veggies or breads, a 1" chunk is the perfect dipping size.
- If you need extra fondue forks, bamboo skewers or cocktail picks are a great option.
- To avoid a smoky pot, use peanut or canola oil for frying; they can handle the heat.
- Best wine to pair with cheese fondue? Sauvignon Blanc's acidity makes it a perfect match.
- Give chocolate fondue a fun twist add-ins like sea salt, peanut butter or a favorite liqueur.
- Clumpy cheese and separating chocolate? Stir lemon juice into the cheese, then whisk a bit more cream into the chocolate.
Communal Asian cuisine is another great way to put your fondue pot to work. It's a cozy way to bond over a family style meal at parties or for dinner any night of the week.
Here are 3 no-recipe ways to get more mileage out of your fondue pot:
Mongolian Hot Pot: Bring broth with a mixture of scallions, ginger, garlic and soy sauce to a boil. Cook individual portions of diced meat, shrimp, and veggies in the broth then add them to cooked noodles and a ladle or two of the broth for a comforting evening meal.
Shabu Shabu: A Japanese dish, shabu shabu uses hot broth to cook paper-thin slices of food so fast that you only need a swish or two (shabu means swish in Japanese). Packaged dashi or miso work great with beef tenderloin, shiitake mushrooms and diced firm tofu. Try this dish with wasabi-soy-ginger or plum sauce.
Steamboat: Have friends take turns dropping a handful of this or that into a pot of broth to create this traditional friendship stew. Think pea shoots, watercress, shiitake mushrooms, ground beef, mini meat or fish balls, tofu, frozen dumplings or pot stickers, squid or fresh shrimp.
Do you have a favorite type of fondue?