Every year after our Christmas party, my sister-in-law sit down and do a "what worked, what didn't" list. I have them for almost all the parties we have done and it is so helpful when planning for the following year. One of the items that we go back and forth on is the cheese plate. Part of us feels we should have it, part of us feel it is a time consuming item that no one really eats. I have to admit I like a little cheese when I'm at a party, so on the fence I sit.
As we discussed the cheese yet again, we had a stroke of genius. Fondue. Who does not love a good gooey fondue and since we have already eliminated the baked brie that congeals 5 minutes after you put it on the table we felt this was a winning option.
The next hurdle was 'what do we put it in'? Hmmm, due to the furniture in my dining room the table has to stay in the middle of the room. In years past we had pushed it up against the wall so that made items requiring plugs (like crock pots) a piece of cake. Table in the middle of the room and long cords (especially when folks have been getting their festive on) is just tragedy waiting to happen. The solution, an old fashion Sterno fondue pot. I had been looking on line and decided I wanted to get the Wilton fondue set. It seemed to be just the right size and as a bonus it was tea light powered, so no Sterno. I would have purchased it but it was $20 buck shipping and frankly I'm just too cheap. I'm glad I resisted because the other day while at Goodwill, I found the exact same set unopened for $5. Score!! So tonight we decided to test it out.
I used a the fondue recipe below and learned a few things:
- Don't use preshredded cheese. They treat is with some kind of coating to keep it from sticking and it totally throws off the "meltiness" of the cheese
- Use a beer you would actually drink. Joj brought home some Redhook, yuck, and since the flavor intensifies when it cooks it make the fondue really "beery". For us, a nice blonde beer would probably be a better choice.
- 3 cloves of garlic is a lot.
Also, as far as the items to dip, you don't need a lot. I cut up a large apple, 4 thick slices of crusty bread, 1 small head of broccoli, 2 chicken tenders, and a few slices if summer sausage for the 4 of us. Half way through we were stuffed. It didn't seem like that much food, but apparently if you eat slowly enough you fill up on a lot less. Now I know the whole cheese and beer thing was isn't exactly "diet friendly" but we really didn't make much of a dent in the cheese either. So what is the point??? Fondue can be a relatively light meal. Who knew?
Cheesy Beer Fondue
2 cups beer (I used a pale ale Henry's)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons ground dry mustard
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (3 cloves was pretty garlicly)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
Combine first 4 ingreds and half of the flour
Toss rest of the flour with the cheese
Once beer mixture is boiling, add cheese and melt (add a couple of drops of lemon juice if cheese is too clumpy)
Then dip all kinds of yummy stuff like bread, apples, veggies, etc.