Drool! Fragrant melted cheese served in a communal pot, or a traditional caquelon or fondue pot over a little réchaud brought to temperature with a candle or various other types of flame material. Small-bit-sized foods are consumed by dipping bread, assorted vegetables, and proteins dunked right into the warm, mouth-watering melted cheese using long-stemmed pronged forks.
Fondu was created to promote a national dish in Switzerland. I think they nailed it. It became so popularized in North America in the 1960s the term “fondue” has now been coined for other dishes in which a portion of food is dipped into a communal pot of warm liquid kept hot. We have all heard of chocolate fondue, fondue au chocolate, in which pieces of fruit or pastry are plunged into a melted chocolate mixture, and fondue bourguignonne, in which elements of meat are cooked in hot oil or broth.
Either way, you enjoy it, sweet desserts or savory choices are up to you. I’ve been on a savory Fondue craze this winter and just wanted to share with you.
You won’t even need a fondue pot to enjoy melted cheese. I used a winter squash, and at one point, I hollowed out a giant round loaf of walnut bread. Cut up and pre-roast some sweet baby potatoes and various veggies I knew my family would enjoy. I especially love to dunk roasted baby carrots and raw red bell pepper. The challenge is eyeballing how much of the fondu you’ll need to fill your squash or bread round and then trying not to eat all the ingredients during prep time.
When it comes to the perfect serving portion — it’s another variable. I always prep about two to three pieces of each selection, equalling about a dozen bites per person—some on the side for those with larger appetites, like myself. Shhhhh!
Take a quick peek at the recipes below.
1 whole kabocha squash or any winter squash of your choice, about 5-8 inches in diameter
3-6 cups of fondue to fill squash or bread round ( feed 6-8 pp)
1 large clove of peeled garlic- smashed
Preheat your oven to 350’F degrees. Prepare your squash as you would for carving out a pumpkin for Halloween. Cut off a ‘lid’ and scoop out all the seeds and membranes.
Gently rub the insides with a hefty knob of butter and a good sprinkling of salt. Smash the clove of garlic and rub it all over the interior. Drop the clove to the bottom of the squash leave it throughout the roasting process. Place the lid back onto the squash and sit the whole pumpkin on a sturdy baking tray. Foil the stem of you, think it will be at risk of burning.
Bake until cooked through but still firm to a knife. About 30-60 minutes to depending on the size of your squash. I like to roast my squash until I can poke a sharp knife through the flesh and then add the fondu making sure it doesn’t fall about all soggy. Remember when choosing your squash’s size, the larger the squash, the thicker the walls, the dense the meat, and the longer the cooking time. Don’t forget you will roast an additional few minutes when the fondu is added.
While the squash is roasting in the oven, prepare your fondu filling.
For the Cheese Fondu
Use this recipe to yield about 3 cups of fondu and adjust accordingly to your bread or squash bowl size. I usually double the recipe for a sizeable sourdough round.
1 cup Emmental, grated
1 cup Gruyère, grated
1 cup mature white Cheddar, grated
2 tablespoon of cornstarch
3/4 cup of crème fraîche or lite sour cream
1/4 cup tablespoons of dry white wine or splash of bourbon or sherry
1 shallot, cleaned, and cut in half
2 garlic clove, smashed
pinch of nutmeg ( optional )
In a medium-sized bowl, toss the grated cheeses with the cornstarch until the cheese is completely coated.
On the stovetop over medium-low heat, add all the fondu ingredients and slowly warm until melted, stirring occasionally.
The last 15 minutes of roasting, remove the squash from the oven. Remove the lid and set it aside for a serving garnish.
Remove the garlic clove and discard. Carefully pour the melted fondu mixture into the baked cavity of the squash—place back into the oven and continue to baking for an additional 10-15 mins or until the fondue bubbling and slightly brown and the flesh of the squash appears to be baked and creamy.
Place on a platter and surround the squash with various pieces of bread and veggies for dipping. Supply your guests with spoons so that they can scoop out chunks of soft, roasted pumpkin with the melted cheese after the dipping session.
Suggestions for Dipping
Crusty bread, cut into bite-sized pieces
Al dente roasted vegetables
Raw vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces
Roasted butternut squash cubes
Whole raw scallions
Use any variety of squash or choose individual ones for each of your guests.