Mad Men may have ended its TV run, but that doesn’t mean that 60s style parties can’t still be hip. If you’ve never held a fondue party, adding one to your entertaining repertoire can be a fun experience for family or friends.
Go Beyond Cheese and Chocolate
While the word “fondue” means “melt” in French, you can expand a fondue party into a “dipping party” by warming a variety of savory sauces into which your guests can dip meat, fish, poultry and seafood. A party that’s mainly foods covered in cheese and chocolate can quickly become too heavy for everyone.
Rather than serving a selection of random foods and sauces, pick several cuisines to highlight for the evening’s fondues. For a Tex-Mex treat, serve a spicy chorizo queso and let guests stuff taco shells or tortillas with marinated flank steak and veggies they cook in an empty, lightly oiled pot. Let friends dip chunks of tender chunks of pork or pre-cooked breaded chicken bites into a warm hoisin or sweet and sour sauce for an Asian treat. Pre-cooked meatballs dipped in a hot marinara sauce and sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese creates mini Italian meatball sandwiches. You can buy jars of ready-made Indian curry or tikka masala sauce to pair with lamb or chicken.
One way to make a fondue party unique and to stretch the conversation is to serve the fondues in courses. Start with a bread and cheese appetizers; move to the “salad” course by offering a variety of fresh veggies guests can dip; offer a meat or seafood course; and finish with a dessert course consisting of fruits and chocolate or caramel.
Get the Right Equipment
Your best bets for finding everything you need for a fondue party is to send an email blast to friends and family. Another option is a search of your local thrift stores. You’ll need fondue pots, skewers, heat source (often cans of Sterno fuel), food containers for the table, and typical table settings (plates, napkins, etc.).
Don’t make your guests guinea pigs! Have a fondue night with your family before you have a party to see how long your heat source lasts, which foods are easy to prepare and eat, how to prevent dripping or getting burned by hot sauces, and what foods and drinks pair well.
Cooked or Raw Proteins?
You can serve pre-cooked pieces of meat that guest can dip in a variety of hot sauces or cold condiments. You can also let your guests choose raw pieces of chicken, beef, fish or other proteins and let them cook the bits while they chat.
Explain the Techniques & Etiquette
Before people start spearing and dipping, demonstrate to everyone the proper technique and etiquette for a fondue party. Teach guests how to remove a dripping piece of food from a fondue pot by raising it over the sauce, letting the excess drip off, and then slowly twirling the skewer once in a circle before placing the item on a plate that’s held over the pot (so food isn’t continually dripped onto a tablecloth or the side of the pots).
Make sure guests don’t eat food directly from skewers to prevent burns and the dreaded “double dipping.”