Family Fondue Party for New Year's Eve

December 29, 2013

FondueNearly everyone I know (us included) received a fondue pot as a wedding gift. If you don't have one, then your parents most certainly do, since fondue was a huge deal in the 1960s and '70s. Fondue is easy to make, if you follow the directions closely, and makes for a fun social meal—the perfect thing for a family New Year's Eve party.

On New Year's Eves past we've made the traditional Swiss style fondue using Gruyère and Emmenthaler cheeses and white wine. With its blend of wine and strong-tasting Swiss cheeses, It's never been a big hit with the kids, so last year we crafted a new, more kid-friendly version using cheddar cheese. Needless to say, it was a big hit, and ended up being a lot less expensive to make than the authentic version, too.

Fondue is definitely a kid-friendly kind of dish, and they love being able to choose their foods and dip them into the molten cheese. Just make sure to keep little hands clear of the fondue pot, since flames are involved and metal parts can get hot.

If you're getting together with friends for New Year's Eve, have them bring their fondue pots, too, and you can serve several different kinds. You can even make chocolate fondue for dessert!

Here's the recipe we created for white cheddar cheese fondue. You can use mild or sharp cheese—whatever suits your family's palates. You can even use a blend of cheeses to vary the taste.

White Cheddar Fondue

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound good sharp cheddar cheese (we used raw milk Daisy cheddar from Vella Cheese in Sonoma)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup good amber beer or ale—Anchor Steam Beer is great
  • 1 teaspoon Coleman's or other dry mustard, or Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Grate cheese coarsely on a box grater. Put in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with cornstarch. Toss grated cheese with cornstarch to coat cheese evenly.
  2. In a heavy saucepan (or fondue pan if it's safe to go on the burner) add beer and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil the beer for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol, then whisk in mustard and garlic.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn heat down to low, and slowly whisk in one or two tablespoons of cheese until melted and incorporated into the beer mixture. Add the rest of the cheese bit by bit in this manner and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add pepper, salt, and lemon juice, and check the consistency. If it's too thick and gooey, you can thin it with a little milk or cream.
  6. Transfer to the fondue pot base on the dining table and dig in!

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We served our fondue with the traditional cubes of bread, as well as steamed cauliflower florets, boiled baby potatoes, apples, and pieces of little bratwurst that we browned in a frying pan. We used Trader Joe's rustic Pain Pascal organic whole-wheat bread for our bread cubes, and it really went well with the fondue, so give it a try.

Other tasty things to dip into the fondue include cooked broccoli, green beans, and cubes of ham. Make sure you try the apples, though—it's really good. Soft breadsticks also work very well, especially for kids who have trouble with the fondue forks.

In case you want to make the traditional Swiss fondue, here's the recipe we usually use:

Traditional Swiss Fondue

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound Gruyère cheese
  • 1/2 pound Emmenthaler cheese
  • 1 cup dry white wine, like Sauvignan Blanc
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon kirsch (cherry brandy, optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Grate cheese and toss with cornstarch as above.
  2. Cut garlic clove in half and rub all over the inside of the fondue pot.
  3. In fondue pot or heavy saucepan, bring white wine to a boil over medium high heat to cook off that raw alcohol flavor.
  4. Reduce heat to low and add cheese to wine as above.
  5. Add lemon juice, kirsch (if using), nutmeg, and pepper, then serve as above.

Enjoy your family fondue party, and happy New Year!