Don’t be intimidated to throw a fondue gathering because you don’t have the right equipment. Fondue kits are one of those fancy box sets sitting in your basement (or apartment cabinet) that never get used. Save yourself the trouble and space and use the practical items you already have in your kitchen. Make fondue in a small heavy bottomed pot or saucepan and place it on a sturdy trivet to serve. Don’t worry about keeping it in a chafing dish! If the cheese starts to firm up, place the pot back on the stove and warm it over low heat. Serve fondue accouterments and foods for dipping in mismatched small bowls, or on a wooden cutting board for a rustic look. To dip and eat use the smallest forks you have or inexpensive bamboo skewers.
All sorts of cheese work well in fondue. While I prefer a Swiss-style (Jarlesberg, Gruyère, Comté, Emmentaler, Raclette), Gouda, cheddar and Brie (or a combination!) also taste great. I like to make fondue with sparkling wine because that’s what I pair to drink with it. It doesn’t have to be Champagne! Find an inexpensive sparkling wine you love and chill several bottles for the evening (I’m particularly a big fan of Portuguese sparkling wines right now). Have you ever noticed drinking bubbly can make any occasion festive and special? And don’t rush out to buy flutes. Serve bubbly in your regular wine glasses or in Mason jar half pints.
Other than the traditional bread cubes, I like to use an array of seasonal produce to serve with fondue. Stick to vegetables and fruit you can serve raw since they require less prep. Cheddar cauliflower, rainbow carrots, shaved fennel and fresh pear slices are all autumn treats that taste great dipped in cheese. I also add some salami to the mix as well as a jar of cornichons, or other small pickles. And yes, those are for dipping in cheese! Whip up a batch of Candied Maple Pecans and put out a bowl of pitted olives to enjoy between cheesy bites. Assemble your platter or bowls before guests arrive, then serve as soon as the cheese is bubbling.
If you’re feeling guilty about eating so much cheese (which you shouldn’t) round the evening out with a Fennel and Pear Salad.
Autumn Fondue Party
1 pound Swiss-style melting cheese, grated
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 cup dry sparkling wine, such as Cava or Prosecco
1 baguette, about 12 inches long, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes
Autumn Appetizer Board
Toss the grated cheese with the cornstarch.
Rub the cut side of garlic clove on the inside of a 2-quart heavy-bottomed pot. Heat the wine in pot over medium heat. Once it’s hot, but not simmering, add the cheese, a little at a time, and whisk vigorously. Continue to whisk and cook until you’ve added all the cheese and it’s bubbling.
Remove from heat and serve the fondue right out of the pot with the baguette cubes and any items you desire from the Autumn Appetizer Board.
See more recipes from our Autumn Appetizers Crate.