Fondue Bourguignonne, or raw meat and vegetables cooked in a fondue pot of hot oil, is a delicious way to bring friends and family together.
I never had oil fondue, or fondue bourguignonne, until the first Christmas I spent with Jeremy’s family. We brought the raw shrimp and a couple of bottles of wine, and, in an impressive display of efficiency and time management, my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law provided beef, chicken, scallops, an array of chopped vegetables, and a dozen different homemade fondue dipping sauces. The table was covered with the feast and to ensure we all got our fill, we used two fondue pots heated by gel burners for just the four of us.
My own family has a big ham every Christmas, along with green bean casserole, the potato casserole with the cornflakes topping, and a salad with bacon vinaigrette. I was ambivalent about Jeremy’s family’s Christmas fondue bourguignonne dinner, but his mom won me over.
“I was tired of spending all day cooking for a meal that was over so quick,” she said. “This way, we all cook together and we get to enjoy each other’s company longer.”
If that doesn’t put you in the mood for the holidays, I don’t know what will!
Piece by piece, we ate our way across the table, cooking each bite in the simmering oil, just like Japanese tempura.
Any lingering doubts about the fitness of shrimp for a winter holiday meal was soon erased by the awesomeness of the delicately fried meat and vegetables, cooked to perfection, and dipped in all the sweet, savory, and spicy sauces. It was like a circus of good food.
If you haven’t tried sharing a fondue bourguignonne with your friends and family yet, I recommend you get on that right away. Alternatively, you can try our Japanese tempura recipe, broth fondue, fondue cooked in wine, or a Chinese hot pot meal. It’s also very versatile-just skip the meat and use all vegetables to make it a vegetarian fondue.
Tips for preparing and serving oil fondue
- Only use a metal pot for oil fondues; you won’t be able to heat a ceramic pot hot enough to cook raw meat and vegetables.
- Heat the pot with an alcohol or gel (sterno) fondue burner, or use an electric fondue pot. The oil should be heated to 180°F/82°C before cooking.
- Use any flavorless, odorless oil you would use for frying foods, like sunflower, peanut, canola, or soybean oil.
- Pour the oil into the fondue pot to 2-2.5 inches deep.
- As long as your pot is safe to use on your stove, you can heat it there first and then transfer it to the table. Be very careful!
- Many fondue pots come with a splash guard to make sure the hot oil doesn’t splash you or your guests when you put your raw ingredients in. Be careful and always use the splash guard. It has notches to hold your fondue forks, too.
- Don’t ever leave the fondue pot unattended if the burner is lit, if the oil is hot, or if it’s plugged in. If you’re using an electric pot, think carefully about where to plug it in to reduce any chances of tripping on the cord. (The plug on our electric fondue pot comes unattached very easily if you pull on it, which is a great safety feature.)
- On a less frightening note, don’t put more than four skewers of cold food in the oil at once or the oil will cool down and it won’t be hot enough to cook the food. Stagger it a bit: dinner will last longer and you’ll have more time to chat and drink wine!
- Make your fondue dipping sauces the day before whenever possible, to let the flavors meld and to save yourself some prep time on the day your guests arrive. Otherwise, there are plenty of delicious condiments that make good dipping sauces, such as Thai peanut sauce, curry sauces, pestos, spreads and tapenades, relishes, salsas, whatever tickles you!
- Fondue plates aren’t necessary, but they are a really convenient way of serving and sharing a variety of dipping sauces.
- You can apparently reuse the oil if you filter it through a coffee filter after it has cooled, but I’ve never actually done this.