Easy Classic Dipping
There are three basic cooking mediums for fondue: cheese, chocolate, and oil. Since all three can be successfully heated in a crock pot, the slow cooker is a natural fit for fondue. Add that to the fact that a crock pot is portable and has the ability to keep foods at a steady temperature for a long period of time, and who would want to fondue any other way. Considering also that the crock pot doesn’t use an exposed flame and the outside surface is somewhat cooler to the touch, you’ve got yourself a perfect party-time fondue set up. Let’s take a look at how to go about creating your own fondue using any of the three basic elements:
The Fondue Everyone Thinks of is Cheese
When you are making cheese fondue in a crock pot, it is important to know about the cheese you are heating. Will it get stringy? Will it release a lot of oil? How easy will it melt? All great questions to ask when choosing what cheese to use in a fondue. Knowing your cheese will help you pick out the perfect compliment to your fondue. Will it have a smokey flavor, or be a little sharp or salty? Basic cheese fondue recipes call for cheeses like sharp Cheddar, Gruyere, and Swiss, often with other ingredients like white wine, garlic, and even a touch of flour to bind the cheeses together.
Another thought to consider when planning a cheese fondue is what types of food to dip. The classic hearty bread chunks is the first thought, of course. But what else can you dip in hot cheese? Fresh vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower come to mind, but there are other foods that are less common. Consider crisp Granny Smith apples, for instance, or sweet red bell peppers. Chunks of salami are great for dipping, think of anything you would love to eat with cheese and then you know you’ll want to dip it. Be creative; fondue is nothing if not fun.
What Better Than Chocolate?
Always a crowd pleaser, chocolate fondue can work as an appetizer or a dessert. Your slow cooker makes an excellent chocolate fondue pot due to the fact that it will melt the chocolate at a low, steady temperature, which lessens the risk of scalding the chocolate. You’ll also be able to keep the chocolate warm for a long period of time, keeping it in its liquid state rather than becoming solid again. The recipe can be as simple as melting chunks of chocolate with a little cream, or you can kick it up a bit with ingredients like coffee, liqueur, or even a pinch of chili pepper.
What you choose to dip in the chocolate depends on your own preference. The classic chocolate dipped strawberries would be first on any list. Be sure to add apples, bananas, cherries, pineapple, or any fruit you want to try to that list. You may also want to dip chunks of sweet bread or a sturdy Angel Food cake or pound cake. Don’t forget pretzels and cookies; you’ll just have to get creative when it comes to the utensils you’ll use to dip them.
Now Your Cooking with Oil
Making fondue with oil can be a bit tricky, if not dangerous. In a tiny fondue pot on little legs, one small bump and the whole pot could tip over. On the other hand, a crock pot is a solid appliance which won’t be likely to topple. This fact alone makes the vessel a better container for your oil fondue. Add in the ability to hold a steady temperature over a long period of time and your fondue decision has never be easier. With oil, you want to bring it up to temperature, then hold the heat steady. In some crock pots that requires the temperature to be set at high, then turned to low. Each crock pot is different, so be sure to experiment before the party. Also, choose a high-heat oil, such as peanut oil, so you won’t end up with a smoky crock pot.
This cooking method is all about meat and seafood. Use lean cuts of beef, like the tenderloin, for best results. Be sure to cut the meat into uniform pieces. Shrimp should be on the small side so they cook all the way through quickly. You may also want to cook up some mushrooms and vegetables for a feast fit for royalty. It’s best to let the raw food sit out for a bit at room temperature to take off the chill, as extremely cold food will cause the oil temperature to drop, resulting in soggy or undercooked food. On a side note, you can also use this same method and replace the oil with broth for a healthier take on this classic fondue favorite.
Having the ability to use your crock pot for a variety of different fondue dishes gives you the flexibility to keep your guests entertained and still serve great food. Many people don’t understand how valuable their slow cooker can be when it comes to having a fondue party. Whether it is cheese, chocolate, or oil, your crock pot can handle it all.
Image credit Denis Dervisevic
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