Five or six years ago, some friends hosted a fabulous New Year’s Eve fondue party. Decadent cheeses, broths, and flavored oils bubbled away in little pots. There were various dip-ables– raw shrimp, steak, or chicken; a rainbow of fresh veggies; chunks of crusty bread. We skewered and cooked the goods in the oil or broth (sometimes after a swipe in a bowl of tempura batter). For extra goodness, the dripping cheese came last. After a midnight champagne dance party, we dunked poundcake and strawberries in melted chocolate. It was so much fun!
For our Superbowl date in the kitchen, John and I tackled a fondue recipe for our main snack during the game. Giada rarely steers me wrong, but the last time I’d fondued was in 2008! This recipe called for Italian sausage and beer- perfect football snacking. I started by toasting some the crostini (that would later shovel the cheese into our mouths).
After slicing a baguette and arranging the bread on a baking sheet, I combined a little olive oil, chopped garlic, dried oregano, and crushed fennel seed. I brushed the chunky mixture over each slice of baguette and toasted them for about 15 minutes. Yum!
After getting some fresh air before kickoff, we dove into the fondue. John chopped up some onion while I started browning spicy Italian sausage in a little bit of oil (with salt, pepper, and more fennel for added flavor). In went the onions!
I combined beer and Dijon mustard while John shredded cheese. A lot of cheese. It IS fondue, after all! We used cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan.
When the sausage was browned and the onions were tender, I sprinkled a bit of flour into the pan. After a couple of minutes (to cook off the flour flavor), I poured in the beer/mustard mixture and let it simmer. And you know what comes next.
Cheese. A lot of cheese.
I let the cheese melt slowly, stirring and folding it onto itself until it was a bubbly, fabulous mess. Bits of onion and chunks of sausage were everywhere! We scooped some of the fondue into a bowl and started snacking as the coin toss was happening. I’m pretty sure we missed it because our attention was diverted to the fondue. In the end, our delectable cheese/sausage dip was far more captivating than the football game ended up being (ouch).
The cheeses melted beautifully together into a velvety texture. You certainly don’t need to make the crostini to enjoy the fondue, but it added a crunch and an herb-y garlic flavor that really set off the Dijon and beer notes in the fondue. It was positively delicious. We had to stop ourselves from eating too much!
I’ll save this recipe for a big crowd next time- I actually had to switch pans (to our giant wok!) halfway through this recipe because it made so much! It’s certainly not a recipe for two. I also wished that the cheese stayed warm, longer; our kitchen bowl set-up is not fondue-worthy.
But don’t worry. I fixed that problem.
Beer/Cheese Fondue with Italian Sausage (via Giada de Laurentiis)
- 1 cup brown ale or lager (room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups sharp white cheddar, grated
- 2 cups fontina, grated (we substituted gruyere)
- ½ cup Parmesan, grated
Mix together the beer and mustard. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add the sausage, onions, fennel, salt, and pepper. Break up the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the beer mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Add the cheeses, stirring constantly, until the cheeses have melted completely. Keep warm in a fondue pot and serve with herbed crostini (below). Be sure to invite a ton of friends over to help you eat it all. YUM.
- Baguette, sliced
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Mix the olive oil, garlic, oregano, and fennel in a small bowl. Brush the chunky mixture over the baguette slices. Salt and pepper. Bake until lightly toasted, about 12 minutes. Dunk in cheesy goodness. YUM.
Hungry for more? There’s a big old list of recipes on the FOOD BLISS link!