Heat It Up! Beer Fondue

Cooking with Beer by | Feb 2008 | Issue #13

Sanctification Fondue
Using a 100 percent fermented Brettanomyces beer as an ingredient to replace the typical white wine adds extra depth to this crowd pleaser.

Serves: 4 as an entrée, 8 as a appetizer

1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 cups Russian River’s Sanctification or other 100 percent Brett beer
3/4 lb. cave-aged Gruyère, grated
3/4 lb. French Comté, grated
2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp white pepper, ground fine

Suggested Dipping Sides:
1/2 sheet herb Italian focaccia, cubed
2 head broccoli, trimmed into flowerets and blanched
1 each yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
8 each brussels sprouts, cut in half and blanched
8 oz. smoked ham, cubed
8 each white asparagus spears, blanched
2 each apples, Fuji or Braeburn, cut into slices

In a large bowl, add grated cheeses and corn starch, toss to evenly coat the cheese with the starch. Rub the garlic clove over the inside surface of the fondue pot or heavy-bottom pan; this will lightly flavor the fondue with garlic. If you like more garlic flavor, add the clove to the pot. Pour the sour ale to the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Slowly add a handful of cheese at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until fully melted before the next addition. Stir in a zigzag pattern instead of a circle to help break up the cheese. Repeat until all the cheese has been added. Make sure mixture is not boiling, as this can scorch the cheese and cause it to stick to the bottom of the pan. Season with white pepper.

Transfer the finished fondue to the table, keeping warm with Sterno or a candle. Serve with suggested sides arranged on a large cutting board.

Beer Pairing Suggestions:
The dryness and acidity from 100 percent fermented Brettanomyces ales like Russian River’s Sanctification, The Lost Abbey’s The Golden Rule, Brewery Ommegang’s Ommegeddon or De Struise Brouwers’ Struiselensis will help cut the richness of the cheese and balance the dish’s flavors.

Dungeness Crab Fondue
This recipe takes delicate crab and mixes it with creamy, nutty cheeses and a touch of spicy hops to create a silky smooth fondue.

Serves: 4 as an entrée, 8 as a first course or appetizer

Ingredients for Fondue:
12 oz. Belgian Strong Golden-style Ale
2 sprig lemon thyme
1 clove roasted garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning (optional)
8 oz. mascarpone cheese (see BA issue #12 to make)
1/2 lb. triple crème Brie, such as Saint-André cheese
1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
1-2 Tbsp corn starch
1 whole fresh Dungeness crab, yielding about 7 oz. of meat

Suggested Dipping Sides:
1 loaf artisanal sourdough bread
1 head cauliflower, trimmed into flowerets and blanched
1 each red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
8 each Yukon gold potatoes, quartered and roasted or fried
12 each green beans, de-stemmed and blanched
8 each mushrooms, crimini or button, cleaned and cut in half
16 each prawns, medium to large size, poached or fried in oil
1 each Belgian endive, leaves separated

In a medium pot, add Duvel, Damnation or other favorite Belgian Strong Golden-style Ale, thyme sprigs, roasted garlic clove and Old Bay; bring to a boil over medium heat. After the liquid has boiled for 2 minutes, remove the thyme sprigs. Prep the cheese by removing the rind from the triple crème and mix with the other cheeses. Slowly add the cheese mixture to the pot, whisking to help melt evenly, until all the cheese has been added and melted. Sift in the corn starch one tablespoon at a time, waiting 1-2 minutes before adding the second tablespoon; this will help thicken the fondue. If the fondue seems thin, add the remaining tablespoon. Add the crab meat, stirring to combine, being careful to not completely break up any lumps of crab, but to distribute evenly.

To serve, pour crab fondue into a fondue pot, double boiler or preheated ceramic baking dish. Arrange the dipping sides on a separate platter and use a skewer to dip into the fondue.

Beer Pairing Suggestions:
A highly carbonated Belgian ale, such as Strong Golden will help cut the creamy richness of the cheese. Russian River Temptation, with its hints of chardonnay and wood from the French oak barrels would also be an excellent choice.

Goat Cheese Fondue with Chanterelle Mushrooms
For those who haven’t tried Humboldt Fog, it’s really worth an effort to find it. This ripened goat cheese is layered with a vegetable ash, making it incredibly elegant and seductive. Using this cheese in a fondue creates a rich backdrop for the earthy chanterelle mushrooms.

Serves: 4 as an entrée, 8 as a appetizer

6 tbsp butter, unsalted
2 each shallots, peeled and diced
1/2 lb. chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp Italian leaf parsley, chopped
2 cups Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze
1 lb. Humboldt Fog goat cheese or aged goat cheese
1-2 tbsp corn starch
cracked black pepper

Suggested Dipping Sides:
1 loaf roasted garlic sourdough bread
1 head cauliflower, trimmed into flowerets and blanched
8 each celery root, peeled, cubed and blanched until tender
12 each green asparagus spears, blanched
8 each yellow wax beans, blanched
1 each eggplant, cubed and roasted in 450-degree oven for 30 minutes
4 each green onions, trimmed

In a sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once butter has melted add shallots and cook until transparent, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan, setting aside in a bowl. Add remaining butter to the pan and add chanterelle mushrooms, cooking 8-9 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and the moisture content is reduced. Mix in thyme leaves and parsley. Remove the pan from the heat and add the mushroom mixture to the shallots.

To prep the cheese, if using an aged goat cheese, remove the soft rind with a sharp knife, then cut into cubes. In a cast iron pan or fondue pot, add Gueuze or other Lambic-style beer and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Add a small amount of goat cheese, whisking to melt; repeat until all the cheese has been added. Add corn starch one tablespoon at a time, checking the thickness before adding more, if needed. Stir in the reserved shallots and mushrooms into the fondue. Taste to check seasoning, and add cracked black pepper to taste.

To serve as a first course, preheat 8 4-ounce ramekins in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes. Fill each ramekin with fondue, place onto a small salad plate, arranging suggested sides around the baking dish.

Beer Pairing Suggestions:
Try a Bière Champagne like Dues or Malheur Bière Brut that will stand up to the tartness of the cheese and Gueuze. However, an earthly Saison from Fantôme would also complement the mushrooms nicely.

Hot Oil Fondue
There is nothing like a pot of hot oil at the table. Try this fondue with as an alternative at the table to complement a cheese fondue.

Serves: 6 as an entrée

5-6 cups oil*, peanut, canola or vegetable
1 recipe marinated kobe beef
1 recipe Witbier-brined prawns
1 recipe stone-ground mustard sauce
1 recipe horseradish cream
1 recipe herb butter

*broth (beef or chicken) can also be substituted for the oil

Ingredients for Marinated Kobe Beef:
12 oz. Rauchbier or smoked porter
24 oz. Kobe beef, sirloin or filet (4 oz. per person)
sea salt and black pepper

Trim the meat of any fat or sinuous tissue and cut into thin strips, cutting across the grain. In a medium bowl, add beer and beef, seasoning with salt and pepper. Let rest at room temperature for 2 hours. Remove the meat from the beer and pat dry to reduce spattering when frying.

Ingredients for Witbier-Brined Prawns:
18 each medium prawns, peeled and de-veined
12 oz. Witbier, like Hoegaarden or Allagash White
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp sugar

In a medium bowl, combine the beer, salt and sugar, mixing until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Cut prawns in half lengthwise and add to the brine for 2 hours. Remove the prawns from the brine and pat dry.

Ingredients for Stone-Ground Mustard Sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp Sierra Nevada Stout & stone-ground mustard
1 tsp Dijon style mustard
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients until combined. Serve.

Ingredients for Horseradish Cream:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp freshly grated horseradish or prepared
1 tbsp green onions, sliced thin
1/2 tsp kosher salt

In a medium bowl, whisk the whipping cream until soft peak stage. Mix in horseradish, green onions and salt. Transfer to a small bowl and let sit for at least 1 hour before serving.

Ingredients for Herb Butter:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp mixed fresh herbs: tarragon, thyme, basil, parsley, cilantro or sage
1 each orange, zest removed and minced
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a small pan, melt butter with garlic, herbs and orange zest over low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl and keep warm.

In a cast-iron fondue or medium heavy-bottom pot, fill half full with oil of choice. Peanut oil has a higher burn temperature and is ideal. Over high heat, warm oil to 375 degrees. Carefully move the hot pan to the fondue stand or a portable burner. Keep heat on low, checking temperature to stay around 325-375 degrees.

Place the beef and prawns near the oil pot. Take a fork skewer and spear a piece of meat, place it carefully in the hot oil between 30 seconds (rare), 45-60 seconds (med-rare) to 90 seconds (well-done). Remove from the oil, letting oil drip off for a second, then dip in side sauces. For prawns, cook for 90 seconds to cook completely through. Precooked potatoes also work well with this style of fondue.

If serving without a cheese fondue, serve with a garden salad and fresh bread.

Warnings: With hot oil, more care should be taken. Make sure the fondue stand or burner is flat and the pot sits level. Have a fire extinguisher close by, just in case. Keep any flammable materials away from the open flame.

Chocolate Raspberry Fondue
The perfect way to end a meal.

Serves: 8

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup raspberry beer, such as New Glarus Raspberry Tart
1 lb. Belgian dark chocolate, chopped fine

Suggested Dipping Sides:
Shortbread cookies
Strawberries injected with raspberry beer
Sliced bananas
Blood orange segments
Russian Imperial Stout-soaked marshmallows
Salted pretzels

Bring cream and beer to a boil in a small sauce pan. Turn off heat, slowly whisk in the chocolate until all the chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer to a ceramic dish and serve with dipping sides.

Fondue Tips: 

  • A wonderful loaf of sourdough bread is a great accompaniment to any fondue. Try different local or homemade breads to further individualize the meal.
  • Blanching vegetables makes them easier to skewer and sometimes more tasty. Take a large pot of water adding in a 1/4-1/2 a cup of salt (water should taste like seawater) and bring to a boil. Cook each prepped vegetable separately for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the pot and add to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Vegetables that benefit from blanching: cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, green beans, asparagus and brussels sprouts.
  • If you don’t have a fondue pot, don’t worry. Try a heavy-bottom pot, double boiler or a ceramic baking dish like a soufflé dish.
  • If you don’t have enough fork skewers, bamboo skewers work well as a substitute.
  • If the cheese is not melting smoothly, add a few drops of lemon juice or malt vinegar to help break down the cheese.
  • If the fondue is too thick, add more beer, one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Keep the fondue over low heat, if using Sterno or butane heat. Too high of a temperature can scorch the fondue.
  • If using flame heat, be prepared in case of a spill and have a fire extinguisher on hand.