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Not Fondue

This was inspired by a post on FaceBook, where someone asked about making fondue. I don’t make cheese fondue, but many years ago my sisters were given several fondue sets when they married, and passed one on to me.

I make an Italian dish called Bagna Cauda (hot bath). I first made it 20+ years ago, and there is one group of friends that always complain if I start a dinner without it.

It’s basically oil, butter, anchovies, lots of garlic, and a bit of cream if there’s no dairy-free people at dinner. I don’t use a big fondue  pot — just a smallish stainless steel bowl. That’s it on the right.

I bring it all to a gentle simmer in a saucepan on the stove and then transfer the mix into the steel bowl, which I pop onto the fondue frame and light the little flame thing  beneath it.  (That part is covered in the photo) 

 It all melds into a delicious umami mix — not fishy at all. It’s served hot, and you dip raw veggies and bread into it. I put the stand in the middle of the table (on a heatproof pad) along with plates of mixed raw veggies sliced or in sticks — green beans, carrots, celery, peppers, thin asparagus, cauliflower florets, mushrooms, snow peas — whatever is in season generally. And crusty bread, which is good to catch the drips from the veggies and is then even more delicious to eat. (And it saves the table cloth too.)

I have some long forks that my parents used when serving  Chinese HotPots, and they work perfectly for bagna cauda. 

As the veggies are consumed, the mix thickens and bubbles down into a thick, delicious goo, and people mop up the last of the mix with bread.

These days I don’t bother with a recipe, but this is the original one I used several decades ago. Back then it was an experiment: now it’s a favorite starter.

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7 days ago

I’ve heard of Bagna Cauda, but never knew exactly what it was – thanks, Anne! This sounds like something my husband would love – he also loves all kinds of fondue, which seems to come in and out of style about every 20 years. We married during an “out” period, but he came home one day from a yard sale with a complete set, forks and all, and at least once a winter, we make cheese fondue. I’ve also made chocolate fondue instead of cake for one of his birthdays – we dipped sliced bananas, strawberries and cubes of pound… Read more »

Anne Gracie
Anne Gracie
7 days ago
Reply to  Constance

Thanks, Constance. Yes, fondues do seem to go in cycles — this post was inspired by a question on FB from someone who’d been given a pot and was asking for fondue advice. I can imagine that chocolate fondue recipe would make a lovely dessert. I might have to try it.