It is very likely that most of you have already heard of fondue. But maybe not everyone knows exactly what kind of utensils are necessary for its proper preparation. In order for our fondue to be delicious and authentic, we need to get the necessary utensils for its preparation.
What is really fondue?
Fondue is a national dish of Switzerland with deep historical farmer roots. It is prepared as in a special common container called caquelon which is heated by an alcohol burner or a candle and everyone sitting at the table dip their bites in it. It contains pieces of Swiss cheese and white wine and cherry brandy, fat or broth.
Various combinations of cheeses are used, the original Swiss fondue containing mainly Emmental, Gruyere, Vacherin and Appenzelerl. This traditional Swiss dish is consumed as different bites such as cubes of bread, pieces of meat, for example chicken, pork or beef fillet, fish and seafood are stuck on long metal forks for fondue and dipped into the melted cheese or boiling fat.
Fondue can also be eaten with different types of fish, shrimps, mussels, lobster, octopus, vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes, pickles, marinated onions, carrots, cauliflower and others. It can be served with a garnish of vegetables, smoked meats and a variety of sauces or a fresh and light salad. As most of you know, fondue can also be sweet, the idea of a fondue with a variety of chocolate types and fruit actually coming from America.
Utensils for the preparation of fondue
Before proceeding with the preparation of fondue, we have to choose the right container, depending on what type of fondue we will be making. Whether it’s with cheese, vegetable broth, fat or chocolate, we have to choose the container in which the fondue will best be prepared.
Unlike chocolate fondue and cheese fondue where a ceramic container can be used, the use of a metal container is essential for the fondue with fat. If a ceramic container is used to prepare a fondue with fat, there is a high risk that the container would crack.
The caquelon for preparation of the fondue with fat has to be metal or made of stainless steel. It is recommended to use a copper caquelon, and it is desirable to have special anti-frizzing stalls and handles to prevent burns for more convenience and safety. When using a deep metal container, the boiling oil is evenly warmed and the temperature is maintained for a longer time.
It may seem, at first glance, that the preparation of fondue does not seem very difficult, it actually requires culinary skills. In order for the final result to be a true Swiss-style fondue, we have to choose the right container for our mixture, choose the right forks, maintain the right temperature at all times, as well as mix and stir the products the right way. When preparing a mixture of cheeses, it is advisable to use a wide and shallow ceramic container.
For the consumption of chocolate fondue forks with shorter handles are used compared to those designed for the fondue with fat. This makes it easier for us to dip them in the small ceramic container for fondue.
Forks for cheese fondue are usually with three prongs, and those for meat fondue with broth or fat have two prongs. Although on the the market for fondue accessories you can also find plastic fork variants, they are only used for a low-temperature dessert fondue which is heated by small candles.
For fondue heated by an alcohol burner or a large candle, of course stainless steel forks are recommended. In the absence of enough metal forks, some fondue fans show creativity and resort to the use of bamboo wooden skewers mainly for meat. And for those who want to pleasantly surprise their guests, special forks with LED handles are also available.
The fondue with oil can also be eaten with meatballs. Special sifters with stainless steel handles and a mesh are designed in order to dip them into the fat. They are available in different sizes depending on the size of our container for fondue with oil. If we do not have such a sifter, we can use a large metal spoon with holes.
Rules of preparation and consumption
Also, when preparing cheese fondue, it is very important that the temperature of the mixture is kept constant by constant stirring. The mixture of cheeses should not be too thick nor very thin. Besides, it should also not be too cold because the cheese will harden and it should not be too hot, otherwise it will burn.
Swiss fondue masters recommend that it always be mixed clockwise to maintain a homogeneous mixture and not to avoid the formation of lumps. And when preparing a cheese fondue, it is desirable to stir it with the fork in the form of an eighth, as this keeps the cheese mixture creamy and prevents the thickening and burning of the mixture.
It is not desirable to leave too many forks in the caquelon as this may cool down the temperature of the liquid. If we have an electric fondue, we have to place it in a safe place on the table so that the cable would not be in anyone’s way. We need to pay special attention when preparing a fondue with fat or vegetable broth. An important rule is not to overfill the container, it must be half of the container, perhaps 2/3 of it, in order to avoid sprinkling with the hot oil.
How is a fondue consumed?
There are certain rules when consuming fondue. Typically, the fondue consuming etiquette does not allow eating with the long metal fork, but this rule is sometimes broken. It is used only to dip the bite into the fondue container and after cooking it, it is removed and placed in an individual plate. This type of fondue fork is not practical for eating because it is too long and its prongs are quite sharp.
Everyone at the table should normally eat their bite by using a simple fork and knife. To avoid dirtying ourselves with cheese when we dip our bite into the mixture and pull it out, we have to roll it over several times or strain it well if we had dipped it into fat.
Repeated dipping of the same bite is also not permitted and we must also be careful not to drop the bite into the caquelon. When setting the table for a fondue dinner, for example, we have to place the caquelon or the caquelons in a way that everyone would have access to it, as well as ensure enough fondue mixture for everyone. The more people, the more fondue containers are needed.
In order to avoid the accumulation of too many food plates being placed on the table when serving, it is recommended that you serve the food in stages. For example, let’s first start with vegetables or fruits, then move on to the bread and meats and finally serve the dessert fondue.
For the Swiss, fondue is not just a traditional dish; it is not just a slice of bread in melted cheese. Fondue is actually an entire ritual, and it is an occasion to share pleasant moments with friends or family.
Fondue is consumed slowly as a person enjoys every bite; it turns into a whole event at the family table. From food which in the past was considered to be just a means of survival during the winter months, fondue has evolved into a culinary masterpiece and style in cooking and enjoying food in a pleasant company. Whichever version of fondue method of preparation we choose, the properly prepared fondue guarantees always pleasant moments and delight for the senses.