The name of this dish is completely misleading because it is not a fondue (fahn-DOO). The word fondue comes from the French word fondre, meaning to melt, and refers to a classic Swiss dish consisting of melted cheese into which bite-size chunks of bread are dipped. But there is nothing melted in fondue bourguignonne and neither is it bourguignonne (bur-geen-NYAWN)—it did not originate in Burgundy nor is red wine used in the making! If you want to avoid twisting your tongue, you may call it beef fondue.
Fondue bourguignonne aka fondue Burgundy or beef fondue is a popular dish for entertaining, calling for special equipment and strict rules of procedure. Several different kinds of meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish may be cooked in this way. But perhaps the most popular version is beef fondue. Bite-size pieces of tender beef are speared on fondue forks and dipped in bubbling fat. The beef is held in the fat just long enough to cook it rare, medium, or well-done, as preferred. Then the meat is dunked in a sauce of the eater’s choice and consumed con mucho gusto.
My first introduction to beef fondue came in 1975 during the launch of Meralco’s new mainframe computer—an IBM System 360. At the time, the S/360 was state-of-the-art and we were the first to have one. Thus we hosted a coming-out party for the S/360. Our guests included everyone that mattered in what was then called the data processing industry.
The flamboyant floor manager of the Lighthouse (Meralco’s executive lounge where the debut was held), pulled all the stops—a full open bar and a heavy bar chow menu that offered, among others, beef fondue. Being a red-meat lover, I was smitten at first bite. I have forgotten all the other items in the menu but beef fondue has been etched in my gustatory memory. I have enjoyed it ever since—I like my beef cooked rare, au naturel, sans any dip, sauce, or condiment to detract from the flavor of the beef.
- 1 k beef fillet steak tenderloin or boneless sirloin
- 1 garlic clove peeled and halved lengthwise
- salt and pepper
- 4 c canola oil
- 1 c butter or margarine
Sour Cream Dip
- 1 c dairy sour cream
- 3 T prepared mustard
- 2 cloves garlic mashed in a mortar and pestle
- 2 T minced scallion
- 1/8 t salt
- few grains coarsely ground black pepper
- Prepare Meat: With a sharp knife, cut away any whitish-looking skin, fat, and gristle from beef. Wrap meat in foil and chill in the freezer until firm but not frozen through, about 30 to 40 minutes. With a sharp knife, cut into 1-inch cubes and put onto a plate.
- While meat chills, prepare Sour Cream Dip.
- Rub the inside of fondue pot (called caquelon) thoroughly with cut side of garlic clove to enhance flavor; discard garlic. Arrange condiments and caquelon on the table with beef cubes, salt and pepper shakers, and fondue burner.
- Rub a saucepan with the remaining halved garlic clove; discard garlic. On stove top over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it reaches 375°F, or until a bread cube dropped into oil cooks to a golden brown in 30 seconds; it must be hot but not smoking. Add butter and stir until melted.
- Carefully transfer oil-butter mixture into caquelon; do not fill pot more than half full. Set the caquelon on its stand over fondue burner. Using a long match, light the burner in the center hole. Adjust the burner unit so that the flue (the little holes on top of the burner) are completely open; this will allow for the hottest possible flame. Control the heat so that the fat does not smoke. When using butter, sputtering is likely to occur—drop a piece of bread in the fat to decrease this.
- To cook: Spear meat cubes on to fondue fork and dip it in the bubbling fat 10 to 20 seconds for rare, 50 seconds for well-done. Dunk cooked meat in preferred dip and eat with bread and preferred condiments.
Sour Cream Dip
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Spoon into a serving dish.
1 In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Spoon into a serving dish. Serve with beef fondue.
1 In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise (or California Dip) and horseradish. Spoon into a serving dish and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with beef fondue.
1 In blender or food processor, purée cranberry or tomato sauce, sour cream, lemon juice, horseradish, and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into serving dish and serve chilled or warm in a chafing dish but being careful not to boil. Serve with beef fondue.
1 In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and simmer 5 minutes. Keep hot. Serve with any meat or seafood fondue.
1 In a saucepan, sauté bell pepper in butter, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and gravy mix; cook, stirring, until hot and thick. Add wine; blend. Keep hot. Serve with beef, lamb, or pork fondue.
1 In a saucepan, combine all ingredients; heat to boiling, stirring. Keep hot. Serve with any meat or seafood fondue. Serve with any meat or seafood fondue.