Fondue is a fun feast to share with friends, and can be inexpensive depending on what you serve to dip in it. On a budget you can stick to bread, veggies, and inexpensive protein like cubed chicken or sausage slices. This is not a traditional fondue. It is essentially a thin Romesco sauce with cheese added. It's much lighter than a traditional cheese fondue, so you can eat more of it with less guilt! If you have leftover fondue, toss it with some cooked pasta for a quick meal. With one ancho chile and no added cayenne, it has a mellow warmth. If you know you want some heat, you can use 2 ancho chiles or add cayenne to your hearts content! —hardlikearmour
Test Kitchen Notes
Hardlikearmour’s Fondue Espanol was a bigger hit than the King’s Speech at our girl’s night out Oscar party. This Romesco-like pot of yum came together in under thirty minutes thanks to two substitutions. Appetizing, fresh tomatoes and peppers are impossible to find in Chicago in February. I used four fire-roasted, canned tomatoes and roasted red peppers from a jar with mouth-watering results. I served it with garlic-rubbed crostini and oven-toasted gnocchi. Both were delicious though the gnocchi slightly edged out the crostini. My husband eagerly sampled the fondue before the cheese and wine were added and declared it a hit. Anyone looking for a lighter, non-dairy option might consider omitting the cheese, but on a cold night I say bring it on. Delicioso! —Bob Vivant
- Makes 3.5 to 4 cups
water, plus additional to thin fondue
red wine vinegar
dried ancho chile
red bell peppers
3/4- inch thick slices day old french bread
3 to 4
medium cloves garlic, minced
slivered almonds, toasted
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Manchego Curado cheese (aged 3 to 6 months)
dry white wine, plus additional to thin fondue
cayenne pepper (optional)
- Place water, red wine vinegar, and dried ancho chile in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil then remove from heat and cover pan to allow chile to soften.
- Preheat your broiler and line a baking sheet with foil. Core, halve, and seed the tomatoes (pole to pole). Quarter red peppers (also pole to pole), and remove stems, seeds, and ribs. Spray baking sheet with neutral flavored cooking spray, then arrange tomatoes and peppers on the tray, cut sides down. Spray tomatoes and peppers with non-stick cooking spray, then broil until skin is charred. Rotate the peppers if needed to ensure even charring. The tomatoes may be done faster than the peppers. Place broiled peppers in a plastic bag and close, then set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. Slip the skins off the tomatoes and peppers. Place tomatoes and peppers into bowl of food processor.
- Remove ancho chile from the soaking water (save the water!). Remove stems and seeds, then cut into quarters. Add to bowl of food processor.
- Tear bread slices into quarters, and place in bowl. Add 3/4 cup of the chile soaking water to the bowl, and set aside for several minutes.
- Add soaked bread with it's soaking liquid, garlic, almonds, salt, and pepper to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until roughly combined, then scrape sides of bowls. Process for 30 to 60 seconds until well combined, scrape sides of bowl again, then with processor running add the olive oil in a slow stream. Process an additional 15 to 30 seconds. (You may refrigerate this in a covered container until almost ready to serve.)
- Transfer sauce to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring to melt between additions. Once cheese is fully incorporated, stir in the wine. Taste and adjust seasonings with additional salt, pepper, and optional cayenne. Thin with additional water and/or wine to desired consistency.
- Transfer fondue to fondue pot. Serve with cubes of bread, boiled/roasted new or fingerling potatoes, roasted cauliflower or broccoli, cubes of cooked chicken breast, and/or slices of cooked sausage. If you want to splurge, serve with cooked shrimp.