Fondue is a tradition in our family that goes back to the year Michael and I started dating. He surprised me at Christmas that first year with a gift of two fondue pots which we christened on New Year's Eve with cheese and bourguignonne (oil) fondues, so now we celebrate every New Year's Eve by staying home and making fondue for just the two of us. This year our celebration was off by a few days because we were out of town, but we still managed to put the boys to bed early and enjoy a quiet evening together. We make fondue at other times of the year, too, but it's particularly special for us as a way to ring in the New Year. Fondue for two...how romantic is that?
We decided that the old pots had seen plenty of action (they were burned out in the bottom), so for Christmas we got two new electric fondue pots, which we think work great. In recent years we've moved away from oil fondues and now we make broth fondues, which are very easy and healthy. We marinate some meat, make a couple dipping sauces, add herbs and seasonings to a vegetable or chicken stock, and we're ready to fondue!
This version has an Italian twist using sun-dried tomato pesto as a marinade, which we made using the fresh basil grown in the AeroGarden I've been testing and reviewing. We liked the flavor of the marinade, which also permeated the broth as the chicken cooked.
I made the aioli using the fresh parsley grown in my kitchen and some roasted red peppers that I always have on hand. Jars of roasted peppers are very convenient, particularly in the winter time when fresh peppers can be expensive, but of course you can use fresh red peppers instead. Just roast the peppers in the oven or on the grill until the skins are black all over, put them in a plastic bag for a few minutes until the skins are loose, then peel off the blackened skin. I should have started the aioli earlier in the day, but I didn't get to it until just an hour before we were ready to fondue. The flavor improves with time, so make it at least a few hours before you need it or you can even make it a day or two ahead of time if you are planning a party.
One important thing to remember about broth fondues is that the liquid does cook down, so make sure you have enough stock to cook all of the meat. The amount mentioned in the recipe is the minimum required, and having an extra cup or two available certainly won't hurt.
This easy fondue recipe is my contribution to Grow Your Own #6. If you grow your own foods please feel free to join in! The deadline for this month's entries is January 29. Go to the Grow Your Own page for complete information on how to participate.
Chicken Pesto Fondue
- food processor
- medium bowl
- large sauce pan with a lid
- fondue pot with forks
- small bowl or ramekin
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted)
- 10 large basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt (to taste)
- fresh ground black pepper (to taste
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 roasted red pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 drops chipotle hot sauce (optional)
- sea salt (to taste)
- fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
- (A few hours before serving, or 1 to 2 days ahead) In the bowl of the food process, add the garlic, red pepper, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice. Pulse several times, until smooth (the garlic and parsley may still be in small chunks). Add the chipotle sauce (optional), sea salt, and black pepper to taste. Pulse a few more times to thoroughly mix. Keep covered in the refrigerator, then allow to come to room temperature before serving. Serve in a small bowl or ramekin.
- In the bowl of the food processor, add the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, basil leaves, and olive oil. Pulse until the mixture forms a paste. Add sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
- Put the cut chicken pieces into the medium bowl. Add the prepared marinade and toss until the chicken pieces are coated and the marinade is evenly distributed. Set aside for at least 1 hour. You can marinade the chicken up to 12 hours ahead of serving, just keep it covered in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
- (Just before serving) In the large sauce pan, bring the stock to a boil, then transfer into the fondue pot. Make sure you do not overfill the pot (some pots have a FILL LINE marked). Add the parsley and garlic and heat according to manufacturers directions.
- When the broth is at a simmer, spear a piece of marinated chicken with a fondue fork and put it into the broth. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes depending on the size of the piece. (Chicken should be cooked all the way through before eating.) Dip the cooked chicken into the aioli and enjoy.