Skillet fondue is easy and fun. Photo
courtesy La Brea Bakery.
Skillet fondue enables you to serve a warm, gooey cheese treat very easily, for brunch, lunch, a dinner first course or snacking. It’s also a good way to use up smaller pieces of cheese leftover from a cheese tray. We cribbed the idea from La Brea Bakery; this photo appeared in an ad celebrating the bakery’s 25th anniversary.
Skillet fondue requires no fondue pot, although if you have a hot plate or warming tray, or the base of a fondue set with a heat source, you can use it to both raise the hot skillet from the table and keep the cheese warm.
This isn’t a fondue in the classic sense, where melted cheese is blended with white wine, lemon juice and garlic. It’s mostly cheese melted in a skillet, although you add seasonings of choice, and can top the melted cheese with all sorts of goodies instead of using the goodies as dippers.
We made this recipe in a broiler, although you can as easily use the oven. We used a cast iron skillet for “atmosphere”; you can use anything heatproof with a handle.
We happened to have Cheddar and Gruyère on hand. You can use whatever melting cheeses you have, including any of the Swiss cheeses, the Hispanic melting cheeses, Fontina, Gouda, Havarti and others. Don’t hesitate to blend multiple cheeses.
While regular fondue uses cubes of day-old bread speared with fondue forks, skillet fondue uses crostini, toasted baguette slices, which we sliced and toasted in the oven (or you can grill them). Instead of dipping and swirling cubes with a fondue fork, you scoop up the cheese with crostini. If you’re short on bread, you can use crackers.
RECIPE: SKILLET FONDUE RECIPE
1-1/2 to 2 pounds cheese
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped (substitute dried oregano)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (substitute dried sage or savory)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (flavored oil is O.K.)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste (or substitute red chili flakes for the pepper)
Toppings: apple or fig slices, dates, grapes, cornichons, piquillo chiles, cubed ham, sliced sausage, raw or cooked veggies (bell pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes, sliced boiled or roasted potatoes, zucchini or whatever you have
1. TOAST the baguette slices. To toast in the oven, preheat it to 400°F. Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/4-inch slices and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crostini are crisp and browned. Let cool.
2. REMOVE any rind and dice the cheese. Prepare the toppings and place them on the table in individual ramekins or bowls. (Instead, you can place some of each on individual dinner plates for each diner.) Preheat the broiler.
3. PLACE the cheese in an even layer in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Scatter with the herbs plus salt and pepper to taste; drizzle with olive oil.
4. PLACE under the broiler, ideally five inches from the heating element, for 5-6 minutes. The cheese should be melted, bubbling and starting to brown. Remove with silicone pot holders or oven mitts, onto a brazier on the table (or other heat-resistant base).
Three of the loaves you may find at your supermarket. Photo courtesy La Brea Bakery.
5. SERVE immediately, passing the toppings (an old-fashioned lazy susan or any type of kitchen turntable is great here).
The History Of Cheese Fondue
The history of fondue and a classic cheese fondue recipe
28 Fondue Recipes
LA BREA BAKERY
Twenty-five years ago, Los Angeles was a bread wasteland. When Nancy Silverton and her then-husband Mark Peel were preparing to open their restaurant, Campanile, they found a location with room to open a bakery next door, to make their own sourdough bread.
The bread became a sensation, and retail loaves sold out early each day.
In 2001 the bakery was acquired by an investment group, enabling expansion throughout Southern California; and now, to quality food stores nationwide.
Is there La Brea sourdough near you? Check out the store locator on the company’s website.